“To see if a patient has ever been infected by a particular virus, researchers expose antibodies in the patient’s blood to molecules with the virus’ molecular signature. In the past, researchers could only check a sample for reactions of one type of antibody at a time. But thanks to Next Generation genetic sequencing, researchers can us VirScan to look for hundreds of antibody reactions at once. (Popular Science)“
The test is not currently available in clinical practices so right now, if your Doctor suspects an infection they order a test for the specific virus or viruses that they suspect. VirScan would allow a Doctor to order just one test to check for hundreds of viruses at the same time. This could have far-reaching implications for patients without a firm diagnosis. And, researchers are hopeful that the technology will lead to new discoveries about the ways that viruses interact with human hosts.
“The researchers tested VirScan on samples from almost 600 individuals from the United States, Thailand, Peru, and South Africa. After observing over 100 million antibody reactions, the researchers determined that most people had been exposed to about 10 viruses on average, though a few had antibodies for 84 different viruses.
Interestingly, the researchers also uncovered that the immune system sometimes deploys the same antibodies for different viruses that may look similar or may tailor a sort of universal antibody to block a specific virus. With a bit more tweaking, the researchers hope that VirScan can be used to quickly detect the bacteria and fungi to shed more light on the microbiome. (Popular Science)“
Imagine the research potential with this test. Researchers could quickly, cheaply, and easily test hundreds of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients for hundreds of viruses. Would clear subtypes of ME/CFS patients emerge? Would a pattern of viral exposure emerge? How different would our population look than the healthy controls?