Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

A controversial analysis suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome continues to draw criticism, Science reports.

In a paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Rudolf Jaenisch and his colleagues report that SARS-CoV-2 RNA can sometimes be reverse-transcribed and integrated into the host genome and further be expressed as chimeric transcripts.

But, as Science reports, critics have said that the findings in this and in an earlier version of the analysis posted to BioRxiv are likely due to lab artifacts and that stronger data is needed to support the claim. Jaenisch tells it that the PNAS paper addresses some of the concerns critics brought up after the preprint was posted and argues that lab artifacts cannot account for all the chimeric reads they detected.

One critic, Cornell University's Cedric Feschotte, tells Science that the "integration data in cell culture is much more convincing than what was presented in the preprint, but it's still not totally clean."

Additionally, it's unclear whether this finding has clinical implications, Science says. In their paper, Jaenisch and his colleagues suggest that their finding could explain why some people produce SARS-CoV-2 RNA even after they recover, though Feschotte notes at Science that the virus could be able to persist in patients for months without integration.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.