Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have developed a virus-testing tool, dubbed VirScan, that can test patients for both past and current infections by analyzing just a single drop of blood. While existing diagnostic tools generally only search for a single virus at a time, this one can perform simultaneous assessments, saving time and potentially, lives.
The VirScan tool screens blood sample for the antibodies that fight against the 206 virus species that infect humans. Since the human body produces antibodies for many years, the tool is able to detect current as well as past infections, giving doctors and public health authorities a wealth of information to help take reactive steps at both narrow and broad levels.
This tool could prove to be a godsend in developing countries short of diagnostic equipment and ravaged by disease.