Imagine knowing the viruses you’ve been exposed to in the last 5 years! The answer may be here in the form of genetic testing—in a very clever way.
Scientists have developed a DNA-based blood test called VirScan that can look back into a person’s exposure to viruses by looking for the anti-bodies that the human body creates to fight the viruses. In his article in the Washington Post, Brady Dennis reports that the human immune system can produce antibodies for decades after it encounters a virus.
“VirScan detects those antibodies and uses them as a window in time to create a blueprint of nearly every virus an individual has encountered. It’s a dramatic alternative to existing diagnostic tools, which test only for a single suspected virus.”
The biggest upside for technology could be the early detection of conditions, such as hepatitis C, and eventually could help explain what triggers certain autoimmune diseases and cancers.
The VirScan analysis can currently be done for about $25, and some think it could become a routine part of a doctor visit, including Dr. Vincent Racaniello, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia, who was not involved in developing VirScan. “I think this is really going to be helpful. It’s very cool.”
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