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Viral Variant Footrace

The Los Angeles Times writes that SARS-CoV-2 variants — B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK, and B.1.427/B.1.429, first identified in California — are vying for dominance in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially named B.1.427/B.1.429 variants of concern, CNN adds.

The US, the LA Times notes, has ramped up its genomic surveillance of viral variants and new data from the CDC indicates that by mid-February the B.1.1.7 variant accounted for about 9 percent of US cases and B.1.427/B.1.429 about 13 percent. That prevalence, though, varies by state. In California, the B.1.1.7 variant accounted for about 1 percent of cases and B.1.427/B.1.429 about 25 percent, while in New Jersey, the B.1.1.7 variant accounted for about 9 percent of cases and B.1.427/B.1.429 about 3 percent.

The B.1.1.7 variant, though, is more transmissible, leading Scripps Research Translational Institute's Eric Topol to predict at the LA Times that the B.1.427/B.1.429 "will be quickly crowded out by B.1.1.7," as "spreading rules the roost."

The Scan

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.

Study Examines Relationship Between Cellular Metabolism, DNA Damage Repair

A new study in Molecular Systems Biology finds that an antioxidant enzyme shifts from mitochondria to the nucleus as part of the DNA damage response.

Stem Cell Systems Target Metastatic Melanoma in Mouse Model

Researchers in Science Translational Medicine describe a pair of stem cell systems aimed at boosting immune responses against metastatic melanoma in the brain.

Open Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas Team Introduces Genomic Data Collection, Analytical Tools

A study in Cell Genomics outlines open-source methods being used to analyze and translate whole-genome, exome, and RNA sequence data from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas.