Identifying long-term health issues could become simpler and more cost effective as a new blood test called VirScan currently in development at the Howard Hughs Medical Institute can allegedly reconstruct a person’s entire history regarding viruses and infections.
Admittedly, the test is being developed primarily for people who don’t have access to elementary medical care, as certain infections require different numbers of expensive and not so accessible tests; while also requiring time for proper analysis. Some people might live a long time with certain afflictions without even knowing that they have them due to this, and are under risk of discovering them when it’s either too late or a significant amount of damage has been done.
But the most intriguing aspect of the test would be its incredibly accessible price; it is estimated to cost a minimum of $25, which is almost surreal in a world where medical tests could bring up to a couple of hundreds of dollars out of your pockets.
The test’s developers point out that its retroactive identification of viruses is much needed and extremely helpful, with a lot of infections leaving open the possibility of lasting effects. VirScan can help to chart each patient’s individual infection history accurately, even if he or she never knew about one and never got treated to it. This, in turn, can provide doctor’s with sufficient data to choose the best type of treatment for current or future infections.
Results of the test might also come in handy when seeking to understand how certain viruses perpetuate themselves over inhabited areas, by offering the possibility of analyzing large numbers of people in a short time. It might also help chart relations between different pathogens/infections that are more likely to appear in a person who already experienced one of them.
VirScan effectively works by analyzing the antibodies that we have in our blood; past infections might prompt the immune system to continue producing antibodies for a long time after a certain infection has been treated. It then cross-checks all the antibodies it finds to see which type of over 200 viruses which can affect humans it was produced by.
At the moment, there is no release estimate for VirScan as it is still in its testing phase, though all signs point towards a stable version being announced soon. Preliminary results of current testing have been already published in the 5th June edition of Science journal.
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