New blood test able to document your entire illness history

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By Andrew N. McLean
@Drew_McLean
Aug 13, 2015,  4:25 PM

In the near future, you may be able to unlock the archives of every virus you have ever contracted for 25 dollars. These archives will become available through a newly developed test that only requires one drop of blood to detect your history of illnesses. 

 

VirScan, which hasn't hit the market yet, makes an ordinary blood test seem primitive and outdated. There are 206 viruses and 1,000 different strains that are known to affect humans. VirScan will be able to test for all of these viruses and strains that you’ve ever contracted 

 

Studies on VirScan are currently being led by a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. Stephen Elledge, an HHMI investigator, believes that VirScan will be a progressive improvement in the medical field.   

 

This test "opens a lot of different avenues. For example we can look at the viruses and how they differ between populations of people," Elledge says.  

 

VirScan’s already been used on 569 people from the U.S., Thailand, South Africa, and Peru. Researchers hope to get tests from various locations around the globe in order to learn about the behaviors of different viruses and immune systems throughout the world. 

 

There may be a downside to VirScan, though. In about 600 samples of blood, chickenpox was only found in 25-30 percent of the samples, which is much lower than one would expect. According to Tomasz Kula, a graduate student from Elledge’s lab, this may be because people have already gotten chickenpox or have been vaccinated.

  

The team hopes they can continue to unlock the full potential of VirScan. Dr. David Agus informs the "CBS This Morning" panel that VirScan should be on the market after undergoing more reviews. 

Impact (ONLY use the 'Paste From Word' button to safely copy and paste text from a Word doc) 

Though some may question the significance of knowing your illnesses history, Agus believes that knowing what viruses you've had in the past can help protect you from serious diseases in the future. 

 

Agus says, "If someone is exposed to five different viruses before they’re 20, it puts them at a higher risk for a particular disease going forward, so doctors will be able to screen for it."   

 

Dr. Marc Siegel agrees that VirScan will be able to help physicians ward off illnesses in the future. "If I know what viruses you’ve been exposed to, I can predict what autoimmune disease you’re going to have. Maybe what cancer you can get," says Siegel.  

Public Release Date: 
2016 to 2017
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