A group of virologists from Columbia University (New York) presented unique tools for detecting viruses present in the body of mammals, including humans. The technique allows to determine the infectious agent among thousands of known species. Moreover, the specialist does not even need to enter additional data and hypotheses.
One of the authors of the work, Ian Lipkin, emphasizes that the new invention, named VirCapSeq-VERT, will be a breakthrough in the field of virology and diagnostics. As evidence, he cites a complex case that met in his practice. At the reception to Lipkina came a young man who complained of a terrible health after transplanting bone marrow. The conducted surveys did not provide accurate data on the cause of the disease, stating only a strong inflammation of the vessels.
The scientist once had to face a similar case, when the cause of the disease was previously unknown poliomyavirus. In the case of a young man, it also seemed to him that it would be about a new pathogen. However, the processing of analyzes with the help of a new system showed that the man was infected with the dengue virus. This information was indirectly confirmed by a recent visit by a patient in Vietnam, where the virus is widespread.
Lipkin also emphasized that during the survey, doctors were not even going to look for a dengue virus in the blood of a young person. The fact is that modern clinical studies are based on hypotheses. For example, doctors assumed that a man was an enteric virus. After receiving negative tests, the patient is checked for infection with herpes virus. To produce sample analyzes in this way can be infinite, for today thousands of infectious agents are known to science.
The VirCapSeq-VERT system, on the contrary, allows for the widest possible research. Already today, test pieces of equipment are able to test a person for all known infectious agents. The invention of New York scientists combines the advantages of PCR, which is able to separate the carrier genes from the genetic material of the pathogen, but requires the presence of a clear hypothesis, and a DNA sequencing method capable of detecting the virus by the available genes, but can boast the ultimate sensitivity to the genetic material of the carrier. The essence of the method is to identify all suspicious genes that are then filtered by sequencing. As a result, the system leaves only traces of viruses present in the blood.
To date, equipment has been tested to detect influenza, dengue, Ebola and MERS. For the tests used not only the blood of animals and humans, but also other biological fluids. In all cases, the accuracy of the detection of viruses present in the body was at a height.
Scientists note that the likelihood of false-positive results is extremely small, given the full genomes of infectious agents. Also, the system allows you to track down mutated viruses, which often do not undergo standard diagnostic methods. Potentially, VirCapSeq-VERT is able to detect new pathogens that have 60% similarity to known strains.
According to the authors of the project, VirCapSeq-VERT needs to be more seriously tested. However, today we can say that the innovation system will be in demand in medical practice, because in addition to high efficiency, it can analyze data of more than two dozen samples at a time, which significantly reduces the cost of conducting medical research.