Your blood keeps a record of all the viruses your body has battled — and for the first time, a new test could reveal that record to help doctors understand and treat future illnesses.
A group of scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School announced the creation of a new blood test this week called VirScan, which could tell you your viral history, so to speak.
The test works by checking the antibodies in your blood that are left behind when your immune system fights a virus. Antibodies are proteins our bodies make when they come into contact with a foreign object like bacteria, chemicals, viruses and more.
The more of these foreign objects, or antigens, the body comes into contact with — the more antibodies.
Currently, doctors can only test for one virus at a time. But VirScan would allow them to take a blood sample and come back with a list of all the viruses you’ve ever had, the test’s creators write in a paper published in Science this week. The test was found to be as accurate as the single-virus tests, the researchers write.
The test can only check you for viruses the medical community is aware of — so it won’t be used to discover new viruses.
Why wouldyou want to know your viral record? Because research has shown some diseases like Type 1 Diabetes, Asthma and Irritable Bowel Syndrome could be caused bya virus your body came into contact with — and knowing which viruses you’ve had can help determine which is to blame.