Scientists at a top university are developing customised treatments for hepatitis C patients.
The trial and error element of patients being prescribed different courses of drugs to treat the infectious disease should be ruled out by the new test.
The effectiveness of a drug can now be tested before it is prescribed to a patient, scientists at the University of Edinburgh claim.
New drugs are likely to be approved next year, to add to the one antiviral treatment for hepatitis C currently available. The new drugs will be screened using the new method developed in Edinburgh.
The scientists also said the disease can be monitored to check when it is becoming resistant to drugs and the effectiveness of switching to other treatments can be evaluated.
Researcher Ingrid Imhof, of the university's centre for infectious diseases, said: "This new system will make it easier to select in advance the best treatment option for each individual patient, saving them from ineffective treatments with potentially serious side-effects."
All six strains of hepatitis C were used to infect liver cells. The cells were then tested using a range of drugs.
The team, led by Professor Peter Simmonds, analysed each strain of the disease to check the effectiveness of the drugs and any resistance to them.
The study findings were published in the Journal of Virology.