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Search for SARS-CoV-2 Origins

The World Health Organization has released its plan for how it intends to search for the origins of SARS-CoV-2, Nature News reports, adding that the search may prove to be tricky.

The search, it adds, is to begin in Wuhan, China, before expanding elsewhere. Most researchers think the virus originated in bats, and some suspect it may have also spent time in an intermediary animal before jumping into humans, it notes. However, Nature News adds that finding the source of the virus could take years. "Finding an animal with a SARS-CoV-2 infection is like looking for a needle in the world's largest haystack. They may never find a 'smoking bat,'" Columbia University's Angela Rasmussen tells it.

The search, it adds, may further be hampered by politics, as US President Donald Trump has tried to blame China for the spread of the virus and as China has tried to distance itself from the virus.

A WHO spokesperson tells Nature News that the search will follow the science and "will be open-minded, iterative, not excluding any hypothesis that could contribute to generating evidence and narrowing the focus of research."

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.