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Hot Topics of the Day are picked by experts to capture the latest information and publications on public health genomics and precision health for various diseases and health topics. Sources include published scientific literature, reviews, blogs and popular press articles.

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SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination elicits robust antibody responses in children
YC Bartisch et al, Science, July 26, 2022

Here we aimed to deeply profile the vaccine-induced humoral immune response in 6 to 11 year old children receiving either a pediatric (50 µg) or adult (100 µg) dose of the mRNA-1273 vaccine and to compare these responses to vaccinated adults, infected children, and children that experienced multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Children elicited an IgG-dominant vaccine-induced immune response, surpassing adults at a matched 100 µg dose, but more variable immunity at a 50 µg dose.

The molecular epidemiology of multiple zoonotic origins of SARS-CoV-2
JE Pekar et al, Science, July 26, 2022

We show that SARS-CoV-2 genomic diversity before February 2020 likely comprised only two distinct viral lineages, denoted A and B. Phylodynamic rooting methods, coupled with epidemic simulations, reveal that these lineages were the result of at least two separate cross-species transmission events into humans. The first zoonotic transmission likely involved lineage B viruses around 18 November 2019 (23 October–8 December), while the separate introduction of lineage A likely occurred within weeks of this event. These findings indicate that it is unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 circulated widely in humans prior to November 2019 and define the narrow window between when SARS-CoV-2 first jumped into humans and when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported.

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic
M Worobey et al, Science, July 26, 2022

We show the earliest known COVID-19 cases from December 2019, including those without reported direct links, were geographically centered on this market. We report that live SARS-CoV-2 susceptible mammals were sold at the market in late 2019 and, within the market, SARS-CoV-2-positive environmental samples were spatially associated with vendors selling live mammals. While there is insufficient evidence to define upstream events, and exact circumstances remain obscure, our analyses indicate that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 occurred via the live wildlife trade in China, and show that the Huanan market was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How long is COVID infectious? What scientists know so far
D Adam, Nature, July 26, 2022

Those with SARS-CoV-2 are often advised to isolate for only a few days. But evidence is mounting that some people can continue to pass on the virus for much longer. Something most scientists are confident about is that PCR tests can return a positive result even after someone is no longer infectious. This probably occurs when the tests, which detect viral RNA, pick up non-infectious remnants left behind after most of the live virus has been eliminated. By contrast, lateral flow (or ‘rapid antigen’) tests offer a better guide to infectiousness, because they detect proteins produced by actively replicating virus.

Genomic epidemiology and phylodynamics for county-to-county transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Minnesota, from 19A to Omicron
M Scotch et al, MEDRXIV, July 25, 2022

We sequenced virus genomes from over 22,000 patients tested at Mayo Clinic Laboratories between 2020-2022 and leveraged detailed patient metadata to describe county-to-county spread in Minnesota. Our findings indicate that spread in the state was mostly dominated by viruses from Hennepin County, which contains the largest metropolis. For many counties, we found that state government restrictions eventually led to a decrease in the diversity of circulating viruses from other counties and that their complete removal in May of 2021 saw a drastic revert to levels at or greater than those observed during the months before.

Beta-Thalassemia minor and SARS-CoV-2, prevalence, severity, morbidity and mortality: a systematic review study
E Lansiaux et al, MEDRXIV< July 25, 2022

Impact of a Population Genomic Screening Program on Health Behaviors Related to Familial Hypercholesterolemia Risk Reduction.
Jones Laney K et al. Circulation. Genomic and precision medicine 2022 101161CIRCGEN121003549

We conducted a retrospective cohort study of MyCode participants with an FH risk variant beginning 2 years before disclosure until January 16, 2019. We analyzed lipid-lowering prescriptions (clinician behavior), medication adherence (participant behavior), and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels (health outcome impact) pre- and post-disclosure. Data were collected from electronic health records and claims. Despite disclosure of an FH risk variant, nonprescribing and nonadherence to lipid-lowering therapy remained high. However, when clinicians intensified medication regimens and participants adhered to medications, lipid levels decreased.

An automated 13.5 hour system for scalable diagnosis and acute management guidance for genetic diseases
MJ Owen et al, Nat Comm, July 26, 2022

While many genetic diseases have effective treatments, they frequently progress rapidly to severe morbidity or mortality if those treatments are not implemented immediately. Since front-line physicians frequently lack familiarity with these diseases, timely molecular diagnosis may not improve outcomes. Herein we describe Genome-to-Treatment, an automated, virtual system for genetic disease diagnosis and acute management guidance. Diagnosis is achieved in 13.5?h by expedited whole genome sequencing, with superior analytic performance for structural and copy number variants

Shared mechanisms across the major psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases
TS Wingo et al, Nat Comm, July 26, 2022

Using 25 GWAS results and LD score regression, we find eight significant genetic correlations between psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. We integrate the GWAS results with human brain transcriptomes (n?=?888) and proteomes (n?=?722) to identify cis- and trans- transcripts and proteins that are consistent with a pleiotropic or causal role in each disease, referred to as causal proteins for brevity. Within each disease group, we find many distinct and shared causal proteins. Remarkably, 30% (13 of 42) of the neurodegenerative disease causal proteins are shared with psychiatric disorders.

Genetic risk score enhances the risk prediction of severe obesity in adult survivors of childhood cancer.
Sapkota Yadav et al. Nature medicine 2022 7

We show the contribution of genetic risk scores (GRSs) to increase prediction of those survivors of childhood cancer who are at risk for severe obesity (body mass index =40?kg?m-2) as an adult. Among 2,548 individuals of European ancestry from the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study who were 5-year survivors of childhood cancer, the GRS was found to be associated with 53-fold-higher odds of severe obesity. Addition of GRSs to risk prediction models based on cancer treatment exposures and lifestyle factors significantly improved model prediction (area under the curve increased from 0.68 to 0.75, resulting in the identification of 4.3-times more high-risk survivors).

Disclaimer: Articles listed in Hot Topics of the Day are selected by the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics to provide current awareness of the scientific literature and news. Inclusion in the update does not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor does it imply endorsement of the article's methods or findings. CDC and DHHS assume no responsibility for the factual accuracy of the items presented. The selection, omission, or content of items does not imply any endorsement or other position taken by CDC or DHHS. Opinion, findings and conclusions expressed by the original authors of items included in the Clips, or persons quoted therein, are strictly their own and are in no way meant to represent the opinion or views of CDC or DHHS. References to publications, news sources, and non-CDC Websites are provided solely for informational purposes and do not imply endorsement by CDC or DHHS.