US COVID Cases Spike (Abstract Science, June 21 - 27)
Also: virtual clinical trials are fast-tracking COVID studies, and CRISPR dangers in human embryos
The US reached a record daily number of coronavirus cases this week with 40,000 on Thursday. Extrapolating from available data, the CDC estimates that 20 million Americans have been infected total, but even the 2.4 million test-confirmed cases is more than any other country. Current “hotspot” states include Texas, Arizona, and Florida where public health measures and mask-wearing have been lax.
(Douglas Quenqua, CNBC, 6/25/20)
The article discusses the rise in popularity of remote participation in clinical trials, or decentralized trials. In this model, the patient or participant would receive everything they need for the trial through the mail and would engage in telemedicine reporting of symptoms and progress. This method would not work for safety trials or for drugs to treat acute health problems that require specialized testing, but they could be useful for lowering the barrier for participation in clinical trials to allow for more diverse patient pools.
(Heidi Ledford, Nature, 6/25/20)
Several (non-peer reviewed) studies have claimed that the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool can cause unwanted changes to the genome of human embryos at or near the target site. While previous studies have shown off-target effects farther from the target, these studies claim to show changes that might have been missed in previous studies due to their proximity to the target site. Research on human embryo editing with CRISPR began in 2015, so the technology is still very much in the early stages.
—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker