VirScan, a new medical test, is capable of identifying all the viruses that have infected a person over his or her lifetime. This cutting-edge technique is capable of diagnosing a myriad of viral infections from less than a single drop of blood.
The human virome – the complete collection of viruses to infect humans – contains many microorganisms that do not cause diseases, and some do not even cause symptoms. However, the presence of some viruses in the human body can radically alter the immune system.
Current diagnostic methods search for antibodies left behind by viruses, but they are limited by the number of the proteins that can be tested sought in a single examination.
To use the new technology for screening, harmless viruses were engineered with components of viruses capable of infecting humans. These protein fragments act as triggers for the natural defense mechanisms of the human body. VirScan mixes the drop of blood with these modified viruses, and in observing which of the decoys is attacked by antibodies, it is possible to determine the past record of viral infections.