Researchers uncover a ‘slaughterhouse jet’ mutation

Written by Staff Writer

Covid-19 gives mutations an unintended new twist. Picture a riddle:

A suicide bomber is hurtling toward a seaside cemetery.

Sirens wail to draw his attention. A soldier lies at his side. The two are already dead.

That’s the situation that a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions has discovered. He calls this suicide-bombing mutation “slaughterhouse jet.”

Here’s how it works:

Using DNA-mapping tools, Reisu Zhao — who just received her Ph.D. in biology from Hopkins — discovered that an unfortunate mutation, known as avidity-19, disrupts the body’s ability to process the new protein needed to carry out the suicide-bombing maneuver.

As the bomber sped toward the cemetery, this mutation made the suicide-bombing protein create more amino acids. That caused the bomber to actually explode — rather than make a traditional explosion after the “partner” made the explosive charge.

What are these relationships? And how does this gene affect humans?

In the study, the researchers tested the new mutation on human cells. They also tested mice that had versions of the mutation in the their identical twin tissue — tumor cells.

For humans, it’s an unknown cancer risk factor. But the researchers have even more surprising findings.

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