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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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Archived Hot Topics of the Day By Date

A lab-on-a-chip for the concurrent electrochemical detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA and anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in saliva and plasma
D Najjar et al, Nature Biomed Eng, August 8, 2022

Here we describe the development and application of a 3D-printed lab-on-a-chip that concurrently detects, via multiplexed electrochemical outputs and within 2?h, SARS-CoV-2 RNA in saliva as well as anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulins in saliva spiked with blood plasma. The device automatedly extracts, concentrates and amplifies SARS-CoV-2 RNA from unprocessed saliva, and integrates the Cas12a-based enzymatic detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA.

Monitoring of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.1/BA.2 lineage transition in the Swedish population reveals increased viral RNA levels in BA.2 cases
A Lentini, Med, August 8, 2022

Using a custom SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.1 lineage-typing RT-PCR assay, we analyzed 174,933 clinical upper airway samples collected during January–March 2022. Our study demonstrates the feasibility and reliability of parallel lineage-assignment of select variants at population scale, tracking the dominant sublineage transition from BA.1 to BA.2 at day-to-day resolution and uncovering nearly two-fold higher levels of viral RNA in cases infected with Omicron BA.2 relative to BA.1.

DOCK2 is involved in the host genetics and biology of severe COVID-19
H Namkoong et al, Nature, August 8, 2022

We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) involving 2,393 Japanese COVID-19 cases collected in initial pandemic waves with 3,289 controls, which identified a variant on 5q35 (rs60200309-A) near DOCK2 associated with severe COVID-19 in younger (<65 ages) patients (nCase=440, odds ratio=2.01, P=1.2×10-8). This risk allele was prevalent in East Asians but rare in Europeans, showing a value of non-European GWAS. RNA-seq of 473 bulk peripheral blood identified decreasing effect of the risk allele on DOCK2 expression in younger patients. DOCK2 expression was suppressed in severe forms of COVID-19.

Developing machine learning algorithms for dynamic estimation of progression during active surveillance for prostate cancer.
Lee Changhee et al. NPJ digital medicine 2022 8 (1) 110

Active Surveillance (AS) for prostate cancer is a management option that continually monitors early disease and considers intervention if progression occurs. A robust method to incorporate “live” updates of progression risk during follow-up has hitherto been lacking. To address this, we developed a deep learning-based individualised longitudinal survival model using Dynamic-DeepHit-Lite (DDHL) that learns data-driven distribution of time-to-event outcomes.

Genetics of the human microglia regulome refines Alzheimer's disease risk loci.
Kosoy Roman et al. Nature genetics 2022 8 (8) 1145-1154

Here, we performed transcriptome and chromatin accessibility profiling in primary human microglia from 150 donors to identify genetically driven variation and cell-specific enhancer–promoter (E-P) interactions. Integrative fine-mapping analysis identified putative regulatory mechanisms for 21 AD risk loci, of which 18 were refined to a single gene, including 3 new candidate risk genes (KCNN4, FIBP and LRRC25). Transcription factor regulatory networks captured AD risk variation and identified SPI1 as a key putative regulator of microglia expression and AD risk.

Rare genetic variants explain missing heritability in smoking.
Jang Seon-Kyeong et al. Nature human behaviour 2022 8

We investigated the contribution of rare genetic variants to tobacco use with whole-genome sequences from up to 26,257 unrelated individuals of European ancestries and 11,743 individuals of African ancestries. Across four smoking traits, single-nucleotide-polymorphism-based heritability (h2SNP) was estimated from 0.13 to 0.28 (s.e., 0.10–0.13) in European ancestries, with 35–74% of it attributable to rare variants with minor allele frequencies between 0.01% and 1%. These heritability estimates are 1.5–4 times higher than past estimates based on common variants alone.

Disclaimer: Articles listed in Hot Topics of the Day are selected by the CDC Office of Genomics and Precision Public Health 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.