9-Jun-15 9:00 AM  CST

New Blood Test Reveals Entire Viral History

Science continues to astound and amaze us. Last week the Journal of Science published a paper by Dr. Stephen J. Elledge, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital that indicated the advent of an experimental blood test that has the ability to detect a person’s entire viral history from a single drop of blood.


The blood test, which can be done for as little as $25.00 is said to be an effective tool in determining the pattern and tracking of viruses in certain populations or areas. The blood test can also be used to test the body’s immunity to viruses being tracked as well as understanding how the virus affects chronic disease states and cancers. Dr. Elledge states that the blood test is able to detect more than 1,000 strains of virus from 206 species.


The test, which works by detecting highly specific protein antibodies the body’s immune system has acquired as a result of the virus, has been tested on 569 people in the United Stated, South Africa, Thailand and Peru. The blood test showed that most of those tested had been exposed to at least 10 species of virus. Most of the strains detected were strains that can cause anything from colds and flu to gastrointestinal illnesses. Still other subjects showed evidence of being exposed to more than 25 different species of virus.


Scientist believe the blood test has unending capabilities, including being able to help determine the best timing of vaccinations for children. Another possibility would be to use frozen blood samples to determine the historical pattern of disease. The blood test is expected to be able to help scientists and researchers understand a number of illness that up until now have largely remained a mystery, most specifically, autoimmune diseases.


Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes may stand to gain the most understanding with the blood test. Science has longed believed these disease states were connected to antibodies the body produces as a result of a virus that eventually turns and attacks the body, but have not been able to completely understood how or why this might happen. This newest blood test may very well unwrap many more mysteries, which would make it one of the most significant discoveries in modern medicine.




Dennis, B., (2015), “This Blood Test Can Tell You Every Virus You’ve Ever Had”, Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/06/04/this-blood-test-can-tell-you-every-virus-youve-ever-had/, retrieved, 5 June 2015


Grady, D., (2015), “Every Virus A Person Has Had Can Be Seen In A Drop Of Blood, Researcher Find”, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/05/health/single-blood-test-for-all-virus-exposures.html?ref=health&_r=0, retrieved, 5 June 2015

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Kelley Simmons
Source: Sandy Andrews, CPhT, BLS  

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