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Category: Autoimmune Diseases
Researchers have identified a single protein that triggers the reaction of the immune system to the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. Scientists believe that this knowledge will lead to better blood tests that will be able to diagnose individuals who are at risk for infection.
The study, conducted by investigators at the University of Edinburgh, separated the virus down to the individual proteins that it is made up of. They found that one particular protein caused the reaction in the blood.
Dr Colin Campbell, who led the research, said that the findings could lead to improved testing of individuals for whom traditional testing results may have been ambiguous, such as those who have already been vaccinated or have a pre-existing condition.
"We now know enough to design a better blood test than those currently available," he said. "This could help protect people for whom the infection represents a serious risk, such as pregnant women and elderly people with weak immune systems."
He added that this kind of testing could also benefit those who have acquired an immunity to the virus but are still susceptible to secondary infections like shingles.
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