Do you know that one drop of your blood is all medical experts need to learn every virus from which you’ve suffered? That’s a big deal considering that there are literally thousands of possibilities, some of which you may never have known that you had!
Viruses radically affect the body. In fact, they permanently alter the immune system in some cases; and at the very least, leave an imprint that lasts several years. The VirScan test, a new health diagnostic method developed by Howard Hughes Medical Center in Boston, mixes a drop of blood to reveal more than 200 viruses known to infect humans.
The body’s immune system retains a memory of what viruses it has fought off in the past via antibodies maintained within the bloodstream. By evaluating how the antibodies in the bloodstream respond to viruses, scientists are able to determine what a person has been infected with. Stephen Elledge, the head scientist in the development of the test, calls it “one stop shopping”, noting that the average person’s immune system retains a memory of about ten different viruses, although some patients have presented with more than 80. Interestingly enough, Americans have, thus far, exhibited the least exposure to viruses.
How VirScan Works
In order to create the test, a team of researchers encoded more than 93,000 strands of DNA with viruses known to infect humans. The DNA was then introduced to bacteria in order to create the protein strands of more than 1,000 viruses. A drop of blood is then mixed with the DNA strands to see which ones it has a memory of fighting off, including those for which a person may not have presented symptoms.
Scientists have, thus far, used VirScan to test patients infected with known viruses. Elledge reports that the success rate is very good. “We were in the sensitivity range of 95 to 100 percent.” He also reports that, to date, the test has not identified any false negatives.
The one improvement that Elledge and his team are attempting to make is the time it takes to analyze the data produced by the test. It currently takes about 3 days, under ideal conditions, just to work through the strands of about 100 different viruses.
Still, the primary advantage of the VirScan test is that it is a much more efficient and less laborious source of testing for viruses en masse rather than individually, primarily because it uses reverse testing technology. Typically, doctors evaluate a patient’s symptoms in order to deduce from which virus he or she may be suffering. They then test for that virus to see if it is present. The VirScan test, however, allows doctors to test for many different viruses at once.
Amazing Preventative Tool
Doctors are also praising the test as a potential detector of life threatening viruses such as AIDS and Hepatitis C when they are still in their early stages. Team head author George Xu states, “From a personal health standpoint, you could imagine an annual blood test for all viral exposures to try to find infections before they cause symptoms.”
Xu says that many life threatening viruses, such as Hepatitis C, currently go undiagnosed for years simply because people do not know what the symptoms are, or have no symptoms for many years. Xu also notes that the VirScan test has the potential to help scientists understand the link between health conditions and viruses. He notes that certain conditions, such as asthma, are sometimes caused by viruses that people may not even know that they had simply because no symptoms ever presented.
The VirScan test is also being used as a tool to better understand the immune system. Elledge notes his team has observed that people respond very similarly to viruses with no great difference in the immune response from person to person. This is a significant discovery because it suggests that the human body has a uniform response to fighting disease, something scientists have suspected but haven’t been able to definitively establish until now. Going forward, Elledge hopes to be able to use this test to further explore autoimmune deficiencies and the effects of diseases such as cancer on the immune system.
Both Valuable and Economical
The VirScan test is not only capable of determining a person’s virus history. It’s also extremely inexpensive at just $25. However, currently the test is only being conducted for research purposes. Dr. Elledge and his team have conducted the test on about 600 people from four different countries including Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States. Because VirScan is still in the research stage, it may be some time before it is commercially available.
Still, the amount of information that has already been revealed by the test is helping medical practitioners to better understand the effects of viruses on the human body, and the level of impact that they have on the human immune system. It’s also taking the guesswork out of medicine.
In the meantime, when you feel cold or flu symptoms starting, reach for Vira-Calm to boost your immune system. Better still, Vira-Calm is widely used to protect against colds and flu when these “bugs” are making their rounds. Your immune system fights off many viruses on a regular basis. Give your immune system the best targeted nutrition possible to do its job!