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A Start

Moderna's investigational COVID-19 vaccine appears to trigger an immune response, and experts tell the Los Angeles Times that it seems to be a step in the right direction, but also that further testing is needed.

In a paper appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers led by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute's Lisa Jackson report findings from their phase I dose-escalation analysis of the investigational vaccine, dubbed mRNA-1273. As Moderna announced in May, this trial included volunteers who were given either low, medium, or high doses of mRNA-1273, an mRNA-based vaccine encoding the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein.

Jackson and her colleagues report the vaccine led to anti-SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in all 45 volunteers following two doses. 

"It was a small dose-range trial that showed that doses of vaccine were safe, and they induced a neutralizing antibody response similar to natural infection," says Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, at the LA Times. "But we need a large Phase III trial."

At In the Pipeline, Derek Lowe notes, though, that antibody levels aren't the only factors that determine immunity, and that he's interested in the CD4+ T cell and CD8+ T cell response data. He adds that he would have liked to have seen a stronger CD8+ response than was reported.

Moderna's phase II trial recently finished enrolling volunteers and its phase III trial is to begin later this month, according to the LA Times.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.