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Study Points to SARS-CoV-2 Protection by Peptide Inhibitor Preventing Receptor Translocation

In Nature Communications, researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, the University of Paris-Saclay, and elsewhere describe a "protective epigenetic scarring of ACE2" approach for dialing down SARS-CoV-2-related effects by interfering with ACE2 receptor translocation from the cell membrane to the nucleus. With lung tissue experiments in golden Syrian hamsters infected with SARS-CoV-2, the team narrowed in on a peptide that inhibits nuclear translocation of ACE2, leading to reduced replication of the coronavirus. Through a series of follow-up experiments, the authors showed that this inhibitor was linked to lower-than-usual inflammation and enhanced natural killer cell infiltration, along with altered ACE2 methylation and other immune-related changes in the animal's lung cells after SARS-CoV-2 infection. These and other results suggest that nuclear ACE2 "may represent a therapeutic target independent of the variant and strain of viruses that use the ACE2 receptor for host cell entry," they suggest, adding that "therapeutics are undoubtedly required in combination with vaccines to enhance and prolong protection" against SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.