Dr. DeRisi’s Virochip technology lowers the cost of doing business. How does Dr. DeRisi see his tool changing the way viral research is carried out? For example, viral life cycle, demographic virus reserve pool, and many more types of research might now be possible on a wide scale.
As you may recall from Dr. DeRisi’s lecture, in recent years, the cost of sequencing has dropped significantly and continues to do so. Because of the plummeting price and the extremely high data quality produced by the new generation of sequencers, many viral discovery projects have begun to use deep sequencing as a rapid, cost-effective way to perform research. It allows researchers to look for viruses in hundreds of samples simultaneously in a completely unbiased fashion; the Virochip can detect only viruses with some similarity to a known virus. But the Virochip still has its place in our lab and others, because, despite all the technological advances in sequencing, there is no sequencer in existence that enables a researcher to screen a sample for tens of thousands of viruses, in a single day, for just a few dollars. In fact, some groups are looking to bring tools like the Virochip to poorer regions of the world where testing for viral infection can have a great impact on quality of life, while others are looking to bring the Virochip into hospitals in the United States as an FDA-approved diagnostic test for viral infection. The cost for setting up a microarray-based virus detection facility is many orders of magnitude cheaper than purchasing a sequencer and enough computer processing power to analyze the data. Don’t be surprised if some day the Virochip ends up being a universal diagnostic tool used by people across the globe.