New blood test a "one-stop shop" for detecting viruses

Using just a single drop of blood, a $25 dollar blood test is being called a "one-stop shop" to detect patient's viral history. The newly developed test is called VirScan, and it holds the promise of more personalized treatment and earlier disease detection.

"What I really believe is, every year you go to a doctor, we're gonna take a drop of that blood and we're gonna get your viral history for that year. And we know certain diseases now, like inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and diabetes type 1, may be affected by viruses you've been exposed to," CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus said Friday on "CBS This Morning."

Current methods require testing for specific viruses and only one pathogen at a time, but VirScan developers say it can detect every virus a patient has been exposed to.

A new study published in the journal Science details how the test screens antibodies for 206 viruses -- and 1,000 different strains -- that are known to infect humans.

"Every time you have a virus you make an immune response, which are antibodies in the blood, and this test is able to look at all of them," Agus said.

The study involved 569 participants across four continents and detected, on average, 10 viral species per person. At least two subjects, the study notes, had evidence of 84 viruses.

Developers say the test may initially be more useful for useful for research purposes rather than patient treatment, but Agus believes it could eventually have a big impact on clinical practice.

"It's going to be dramatic in terms of disease going forward," he said.

VirScan is still undergoing reviews, but Agus said it could appear on the market in a year.