The virus SV40, which might cause cancer in humans. Phoebus87 via Wikimedia Commons
Popular Science: Your History In A Drop Of Blood
A new test can see just about every virus you've ever had
A blood sample can now reveal a record of viruses you’ve had throughout life, thanks to a new test developed at Harvard called VirScan. It looks for evidence of antibodies produced by the immune system to kill viral invaders. “It’s kind of like fishing,” says geneticist Tomasz Kula. “We’ve made this huge pond [of viral bits], and we see which ones the antibodies stick to.”
How it works: VirScan matches antibodies in a person’s blood sample to a library of 93,000 snippets of viral code. It can find evidence of up to 1,000 different viruses.
Here are the viruses the team found in 303 blood samples--hover over the yellow circles to learn more.
CSN Editor: Recent advances in diagnostics have been truly impressive.