Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School have created a new method known as VirScan, which can simultaneously test for more than 1,000 different strains of viruses from just a single drop of blood. A corresponding study was published in the journal, Science.
Blood samples for the research were collected from 569 donors from four countries United States, Peru, South Africa, and Thailand. Researchers discovered that people in each country had been infected with a unique array of about 10 viruses.
The new comprehensive test can be performed for as low as $25 per blood sample.
- Using this method, we can take a tiny drop of blood and determine what viruses a person has been infected with over the course of many years.
- What makes this so unique is the scale: right now, a physician needs to guess what virus might be at play and individually test for it. With VirScan, we can look for virtually all viruses, even rare ones, with a single test.
- According to classic blood tests known as ELISA assays can only detect one pathogen at a time and have not been developed against all viruses, which limits how useful these tests actually are.
- Having a simple, reproducible method like VirScan may help us generate new hypotheses and understand the interplay between the virome and the host’s immune system, with implications for a variety of diseases.
- The potential applications of the new testing method are fairly numerous. For instance, in can be deployed on a larger scale in order to determine the ages at which children are exposed to a series of illnesses, enhancing the effectiveness of vaccinations.