Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have found a way to detect every virus you have ever had – with just a quick prick of a needle.
The experimental blood test, named VirScan, is able to detect 206 viruses known to infect humans and more than 1,000 known virus strains, with just one test.
The body fights viruses through creating antibodies in the blood – which are detectable. The new test detects your past history by searching all of the antibodies in your blood.
Before VirScan, doctors could only test for antibodies to one virus at a time. To figure out if you have had numerous viruses, you would have to go through a blood test for each one. But this revolutionary test is able to search for hundreds of antibody reactions simultaneously, Popular Science reports. This new method of testing will allow doctors to see what viruses you have been exposed to throughout your life, and what viruses you may have now.
Researchers tested VirScan on 569 people from 4 continents. They found that on average, those tested have been exposed to 10 viruses, and a few people even had antibodies for up to 84 different viruses within their lifetime.
Tomasz Kula, study author of VirScan, explains the power of the new test: “You can look at viral exposures in an unbiased way without having to suspect a particular infection ahead of time.”
Kula goes on to explain that diseases like Hepatis C often go undetected “because patients do not show symptoms for many years and so they did not get tested for this particular virus.” if Hepatitis C goes untreated, a multitude of problems can occur, such as liver cancer. This new system may solve this issue.
Researchers are hoping that they can figure out how viruses are spread through VirScan, and detect viruses earlier through this test. The test is also extremely affordable – it will be around $25 per test.
You can see the full research article here : http://www.sciencemag.org/content/348/6239/aaa0698