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Question

When we get check up of our body, can we find out which diseases our body is immune to?
 


Solution

Viral infections come and go countless times over our lives. Some, like mononucleosis, might knock you flat for weeks, while others never produce any symptoms at all. And some may impact your immune system in subtle ways for years after the infection.

Soon, it could be possible to get a full history of every viral infection you’ve ever had, using just a drop of blood. Researchers have developed a blood test that detects the remnants of more than 1,000 strains of 206 virus species. The test could someday help doctors diagnose current ailments and reveal more about how viruses impact our long-term health.

A Viral Time Machine

When you’re exposed to a virus, your body’s immune system creates new B cells tailored to fight that virus. Immune memory last for several years, and sometimes even decades, after exposure, so the antibodies in your blood can act like fingerprints of every virus that’s ever been in your body.

Currently, if doctors think you might have a viral infection, they test your blood for antibodies to that virus. Today’s blood tests can only test for a single virus at a time, and doctors have to know which virus they’re looking for, so they can look for a specific set of antibodies.

Now, researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute say that their new technique, which they’ve dubbed VirScan, will allow doctors to scan a patient’s blood for antibodies to every known human virus at the same time. “This means that you can look at viral exposures in an unbiased way without having to suspect a particular infection ahead of time,” researcher Tomasz Kula toldDiscover.“Our approach could be useful for patients with undiagnosed diseases where it is unclear which viruses to test for.”


Biology

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