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Technical, But Key Meeting

A group of independent advisors to the US Food and Drug Administration — including infectious disease, vaccine, and biostatistics experts — are meeting this week to establish guidelines for how they will make recommendations regarding the use of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post reports. It notes that the FDA typically follows the recommendations of its advisory committees. 

The Post adds that a number of late-stage clinical trials of candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are expected to release their first wave of data soon. In particular, initial results are expected either later this month or in November from Pfizer and Moderna, both of which have released their trial protocols.

This discussion, which the Post notes may appear to focus on arcane technical points, in part aims to reassure the public that, even with the breakneck speed of development, authorized vaccines will be trustworthy. "A lot of words ... may not necessarily appeal to the average listener," Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, tells the Post. "It's an important moment, though, to reassure the public this is going to be a transparent decision-making process, and FDA is not going to be pressured into giving an emergency use authorization if the data doesn't support that."

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.