Imagine knowing you’ll be too sick to go to work, before the faintest hint of a runny nose or a sore throat. Now imagine that preemptive diagnosis being transmitted to a national, web-based influenza map — simply by picking up the phone.
That’s the impressive potential of an ongoing Pentagon-funded research project, spearheaded by geneticists at Duke University. Since 2006, they’ve been hunting for a genetic signature that can accurately assess, well before symptoms appear, whether someone’s been infected with a virus. Eight months into a $19.5 million grant from Darpa, the Pentagon’s out-there research agency, the expert behind the program is anticipating a tool with implications far beyond military circles.
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