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Last Posted: Aug-09-2022 12:57:01

Covid-19: What we know about the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants
E Mahase, BMJ, August 9, 2022

BA.4 and BA.5 were first detected in South Africa in January and February 2022, respectively.1 They are offshoots of the omicron variant BA.2, though their additional mutations seem to have given them a transmission advantage. The World Health Organization has said that BA.5 now accounts for more than half of the world’s cases, while BA.4 accounts for just over one in 10.3. Why BA.5 has overtaken BA.4 is a mystery, because they’re so similar. Speaking at a Royal Society of Medicine event, Thomas Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, said, “They have identical spikes, more or less. So that means it has to be something outside the spike. And really our understanding of that from a virological perspective is very poor.”

Olfactory Dysfunction in Patients With Mild COVID-19 During Gamma, Delta, and Omicron Waves in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
CC Cardoso et al, JAMA, August 9, 2022

This study found that individuals with mild COVID-19 infected during the Gamma and Omicron waves had lower odds of reporting olfactory dysfunction than individuals infected during the period of the original lineages. These results suggest that the type of SARS-CoV-2 variant might be a risk factor for olfactory dysfunction, along with host genetic susceptibility.

Finding Ways to Improve Patients’ Cancer Immunotherapy Response
HD Larkin, JAMA, August 9, 2022

An investigational tool using whole-exome sequencing (WES) more accurately identified genes and pathways that predict whether patients with cancer will respond to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) than current tumor mutation burden (TMB) tests alone, a new research study reported. TMB is often used to determine ICB eligibility and is generally calculated from a few hundred genes. The researchers sought to improve its performance by broadening analysis to the nearly 20?000 genes consistently captured by WES.

cfDNA methylome profiling for detection and subtyping of small cell lung cancers.
Chemi Francesca et al. Nature cancer 2022 8

We describe a robust workflow for genome-wide DNA methylation profiling applied to both patient-derived models and to patients' circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA). Tumor-specific methylation patterns were readily detected in cfDNA samples from patients with SCLC and were correlated with survival outcomes. cfDNA methylation also discriminated between the transcription factor SCLC subtypes, a precedent for a liquid biopsy cfDNA-methylation approach to molecularly subtype SCLC. Our data reveal the potential clinical utility of cfDNA methylation profiling as a universally applicable liquid biopsy approach for the sensitive detection, monitoring and molecular subtyping of patients with SCLC.

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