Virscan test has revolutionized the medicine. Today, when we pass a blood test, immunological tests can detect in the serum traces of one virus or of a bacterium at a time. The measles, for example, the tests detect the presence of antibodies that the body produced when it has been infected by the virus of the disease, or it has been vaccinated against it.
The problem: For each virus that we want find it we must carry a specific test. This implies that when the doctor prescribing the examinations, he has an idea of the disease looking for. Virscan test, allows him, from a single drop of blood, to detect once all the viruses that have infected a patient in his life! i.e. all known 206 viruses that attack our species. It is therefore easy to understand the time savings that such a technic represents.
The principle: This is a DNA chip containing DNA fragments encoding for segments of viral proteins, coupled with bacteriophages. These are small virus attacking ordinary bacteria, biologists have learned to master to make them produce substances of their choice.
In this case, bacteriophages express these small viral DNA fragments, each one producing a protein on the surface of the end belonging to a certain virus.
At the contact with the blood to analyse, the antibodies present in it are the corresponding bacteriophages and bind it: Immunologists don’t have to look at which were attacked by antibodies to know which viruses against the person immune.
Virscan not only holds the promise of accelerating so staggering medical diagnostics, it could allow to compare the spread of certain diseases in entire populations, highlighting research on epidemiologists.
In future virscan will be used to develop antibodies to fight against cancer and to better understand the autoimmune diseases and to find new ways to make vaccines.