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Articles on Mutation

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Identifying the difference between normal genetic variation and disease-causing mutations can sometimes be difficult. Andrii Yalanskyi/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Genetic mutations can be benign or cancerous – a new method to differentiate between them could lead to better treatments

Tumors contain thousands of genetic changes, but only a few are actually cancer-causing. A quicker way to identify these driver mutations could lead to more targeted cancer treatments.
New variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, arise through mutations when the virus replicates in an infected host’s cells. (NIAID, cropped from original)

How new COVID-19 variants emerge: Natural selection and the evolution of SARS-CoV-2

COVID-19 variants are the products of the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They arise via mutations, but other forces also have roles to play in the generation and transmission of variants.
A virus’s genes hold a record of where it’s traveled, and when. imaginima/E+ via Getty Images

Charting changes in a pathogen’s genome yields clues about its past and hints about its future

After a nose swab tests positive for a virus or bacteria, scientists can use the sample’s genetic sequence to figure out where and when the pathogen emerged and how fast it’s changing.
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell (orange) infected with UK B.1.1.7 variant SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (NIAID)

COVID-19 variants FAQ: How did the U.K., South Africa and Brazil variants emerge? Are they more contagious? How does a virus mutate? Could there be a super-variant that evades vaccines?

Variants of the original SARS-CoV-2 are now in wide circulation. That means the third wave of COVID-19 has come with new questions about the variants, their effects and what might come next.
Medical technician Amira Doudou prepares samples at the University Hospital Institute for Infectious Diseases in Marseille, France, Jan. 13, 2021, to study the highly contagious COVID-19 variant. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Why new COVID-19 variants are on the rise and spreading around the world

Multiple COVID-19 variants are circulating around the world and becoming more common. These mutations can alter the ability of the virus to take hold and replicate within our cells.
B117, the SARS CoV-2 variant that was first detected in the U.K., has been found to be 30%-80% more transmissible. Juan Gaertner/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

What you need to know about the new COVID-19 variants

A biologist who studies the evolution of diseases explains what’s different about the two new virus strains that have been found recently, and what that means for vaccine effectiveness.
A man with ALS uses a head-mounted laser pointer to communicate with his wife, by pointing to letters and words on a communication board. Fezcat via Wikipedia.com

ALS scientific breakthrough: Diabetes drug metformin shows promise in mouse study for a common type of ALS

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a crippling, progressive neurodegenerative disease for which there is no cure. Now it seems that a diabetes drug may help some cases.
Why do scientists care about mutations on the coronavirus? Alexandr Gnezdilov Light Painting

Here’s how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is constantly mutating. What do these mutations reveal about this virus’s evolution? And will this knowledge help us to develop a long-lasting vaccine?

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