A research team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has created a new test that is capable of identifying all the viruses that have infected a person over his or her lifetime.
It’s called VirScan (Systematic viral epitope scanning), and unlike existing techniques that only search for a single virus at a time, it can test for both past and current infections by analyzing just one drop of a patient’s blood.
Science Behind VirScan
Whenever there is a viral infection, the immune system produces antibodies to attack the virus and these antibodies remain in the blood for months, years and some even for your entire life. VirScan works by analyzing blood samples for antibodies that fight against any of the 206 virus species that infect humans.
So far, the team has successfully used VirScan to analyze the blood of hundreds of people in different countries.
This technique can change the future of medicine by reducing the spread of contagious viruses that don’t have obvious symptoms and also by improving our understanding of how the immune system functions.