There’s a new blood test in town that can tell you precisely what types of viruses you have encountered during your life time and you only need to sacrifice one single drop of blood for it.
The team that has developed the blood test said that the new diagnosis tool may help doctors earlier detect new diseases such as hepatitis B and provide new insights into the true origin of autoimmune diseases and even cancers.
The test was dubbed VirScan and uses genome-mapping technology to indirectly reveal the types of viruses that had invaded the body during one person’s life history.
The new DNA-based blood test screens the blood for antibodies that immune system had generated when the body was attacked by those viruses. Researchers managed to detect all antibodies against 206 types of viruses that commonly trouble humans.
The secret behind VirScan’s efficiency lies within the immune system’s habit of churning out antibodies against a virus long after that virus and the infection it had triggered were eradicated.
Scientits claim that the new DNA-based blood test is dramatically more accurate and comprehensive than traditional blood screening tests. The latter can only provide a diagnosis for a single virus.
“It has the potential to reveal viruses people have encountered recently or many years earlier … Thus, this is a powerful new research tool,”
noted Prof. Ian Lipkin from the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University who didn’t contribute to the development of the blood test.
Additionally, the research team had tested VirScan on about 570 patients from four different continents. They learned that on average a person’s body is invaded by ten to 260 different types of viruses, while some people even had twice that number.
Researchers explained that some patients may have been infected by different strains of the same virus over their lifetime, though blood tests detected only one attack of that virus.
Researcher also found that some viruses were more common in adulthood, while HIV patients had antibodies against significantly more viruses than their healthy peers.
But one more curious thing puzzled scientists – people living in Africa, Asia and South America had a richer viral history that people living in the U.S.
The team couldn’t tell whether that had to do with people’s genes, the strains of the viruses in their countries, or simply with sanitation and cultural habits.
VirScan’s approximate price is about $25 for every blood sample, although some laboratories may charge the patient a lot more. Also, the test results on 100 blood samples take about two to three days to complete.
Image Source: WebMD
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