We all know that, at some point in time, we suffered from a disease which was hardly detected by doctors. Now things seem to get a little bit easier, as scientists have discovered a test that enables doctors to find out the infections their patients are suffering from.
The test is entitled ViroCap and detects the viruses virtually. It was made in collaboration with McDonnell Genome Institute and published in Genome Research journal.
Current tests, called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), are not so sensitive as to detect even low levels of viruses or are restricted to detect only the virus which is thought to be responsible for a certain illness.
But with this new test you don’t have to look for a specific virus, as it automatically detects even the low level viruses, as professor Gregory Storch from the Washington University School of Medicine claims.
The old testing methods based on genome sequencing seem to be not that efficient, so ViroCap can detect viruses which are not discovered by them.
ViroCap could also be used in order to detect some mortal viruses, such as Ebola, Marburg, viruses that cause severe respiratory problems and gastrointestinal infections. Maybe if this new test had been discovered last year, the Ebola crisis around the world would not have caused so many deaths.
The difference between ViroCap and PCR is that the last one can identify approximately 20 viruses at once, while ViroCap can identify even more.
The study was made on two sets of samples taken from blood, feces and mucus, belonging to patients from St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
PCR testing detected viruses in 10 out of 14 patients. ViroCap testing, on the other side, discovered viruses in all 14 patients. Also, common testing missed several everyday viruses, such as influenza B and herpes viruses.
In a group of 8 children, PCR testing detected 11 viruses, while the new one, 18.
In the end, the research revealed a 52% rise in the number of detected viruses using the new testing method.
“The test is so sensitive that it also detects variant strains of viruses that are closely related genetically,” claimed Todd Wylie from Washington University.
However, before being used with patients on a regular basis, ViroCap needs to be tested for accuracy. The test will be at hand for scientists and doctors, so as they could improve it.
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