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Know those little spikes on SARS-CoV-2 virus that bind it to a target cell and then infect it?
Well, those spikes have increased their functionality, thanks to a tiny genetic mutation, researchers recently learned through lab experiments.
This means more of the spikes on the variant that's circulating throughout the U.S. and Europe are stable and able to latch onto cells, which makes it easier to infect people.
The study, “The D614G mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein reduces S1 shedding and increases infectivity” was published June 12 by Scripps Research.
Its authors, Hyeryun Choe, senior author of the study and Scripps Research virologist; and Michael Farzan, co-chairman of the Scripps Research department of immunology and microbiology, have studied coronaviruses for nearly 20 years, according to a Scripps Research news release.
The researchers don’t know if the mutation will also increase the risk of severe illness or mortality, the news release said.
The study has not ye been peer reviewed.