New Test Detects Virtually All Viruses That Infect Humans and Other Animals; ViroCap Test Captures 2 Million Targeted Unique Viral Sequences and Follows with High-Throughput Sequencing

A new test detects virtually any virus that infects people and other animals, according to research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSL School of Medicine), where the technology was developed. The unique new test targets 2 million unique stretches of viral DNA and viral RNA from every known group of viruses that infects humans and other animals. Many thousands of viruses are known to cause illness in people and other animals, and making a diagnosis can be an exhaustive exercise, at times requiring a battery of different tests. That's because current tests aren't sensitive enough to detect low levels of viruses or are limited to detecting only those viruses suspected of being responsible for a patient's illness. "With this test, you don't have to know what you're looking for," said the study's senior author, Gregory Storch, M.D., the Ruth L. Siteman Professor of Pediatrics at WUSL School of Medicine. "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." Results published online on September 22, 2015 in an open-access article in the journal Genome Research demonstrate that, in patient samples, the new test - called ViroCap - can detect viruses not found by standard testing that uses simply genome sequencing. The article is titled “Enhanced Virome Sequencing Using Targeted Sequence Capture.” The new test could be used to detect outbreaks of deadly viruses such as Ebola, Marburg and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), as well as more routine viruses, including rotavirus and norovirus, both of which cause severe gastrointestinal infections.
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