New test detects all viruses that infect people, animals

Diagnosing a virus can be exhaustive, expensive, and require a battery of tests, for people and animals. But what if “one size fits all,” that is, one test could do it all? That’s what a new study suggests.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSTL) have developed a new test, ViroCap, based on genome sequencing. The test can detect viruses not found by standard testing.

 Results were published in Genome Research on Sept. 22.

“With this test, you don’t have to know what you’re looking for,” said Gregory Storch, MD, the Ruth L. Siteman Professor of Pediatrics at WUSTL and the study’s senior author. “It casts a broad net and can efficiently detect viruses that are present at very low levels.

“We think the test will be especially useful in situations where a diagnosis remains elusive after standard testing or in situations in which the cause of a disease outbreak is unknown.”

To develop the test, the researchers targeted unique stretches of DNA or RNA from every known group of viruses that infects humans and animals. In all, the research team included 2 million unique stretches of genetic material from viruses in the test.

These stretches of material are used as probes to pluck out viruses in patient samples that are a genetic match. The matched viral material then is analyzed using high-throughput genetic sequencing. As completely novel viruses are discovered, their genetic material could easily be added to the test, Storch said.

The researchers plan to conduct additional research to validate the accuracy of the test, so it could be several years before it is clinically available.

Photo Credit: © iStock/yodiyim


NEWStat Advancements & research News