With just one prick, it will possible to determine a person's past and present viral infections .
Researchers who described the new technology in the US journal, Science Thursday, said the method, called VirScan, provides an alternative to sampling blood for one virus at a time.
The new approach, developed by scientists from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), helps health professionals identify multiple factors that might be affecting a person’s health, rather than just one virus.
The method will help help researchers analyze viruses in a larger population, and can be performed at $25 (about N5,000) per blood sample.
According to reports, researchers have already used VirScan to analyze the blood of 569 people in the United States, South Africa, Thailand and Peru.
The test works by searching a person’s blood for antibodies to any of the 206 virus species that are known to infect humans.
Even after a body’s immune system has kicked a virus, it continues to produce the antibodies against that virus for years, which is what the scientists search for.
According to Stephen Elledge, an HHMI researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the team was also using the method to look for antibodies that attack a person’s own tissue in autoimmune diseases that are associated with cancer.