Sunday, 7 June 2015

More about that drop of blood with your lifetime virus history

You probably read the story.
The lede: One drop of blood can give your life time history of viral infection.  A single $25 test can find them all.
Here's more detail:

First, only 206 viruses are known to infect man.   This is a manageable problem.  That's true even if nose-cold rhinoviruses retweak their code every season.
Second, with major strains, we are still only facing about a thousand.  Still manageable.
Third, amazingly, only about a dozen past species of infection are found in one person.  Even though people with AIDS get exposed to more than that, this shrinks the problem of beating the bugs to a near trivial level.

How did they do it?  They rounded up 93,000 snippets of DNA code off the "name-tags" of known viruses.   In the lab they "crazy glued" them onto a tamed attack virus until they had custom built 1000 different attack viruses, one for each major strain of virus in man.  The attack virus is called a bacteriophage, not because it's some kind of bacterium but because it likes to get inside bacteria and eat them.

A slurry of all 1000 attack viruses is mixed with one drop of blood.  After a bit, everything is washed away and the attack viruses recovered.  The ones with crud on the "name-tag" tell that you once were sick with that virus and made antibodies to it.   Pay $25, wait a day for the results and push PRINT.

My wife says, "So, what do you do with that?"

Sources:  Wired and Science Daily News.

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