Tuesday January 28, 2020

Simple Blood Test can Diagnose Fibromyalgia for the First Time

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but medication, exercise and stress reduction measures can help control the symptoms

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Fibromyalgia
Constant pain is a symptom of fibromyalgia. Barb Hartong suffered from this disorder for a long time before she finally got the right diagnosis. VOA

Millions of people live with the constant pain of fibromyalgia. It’s a disorder that’s often misdiagnosed. And while lab tests can help identify a lot of diseases, until recently there was no test for fibromyalgia. Now, a simple blood test could finally give these patients scientific proof of their condition.

Constant pain is a symptom of fibromyalgia. Barb Hartong suffered from this disorder for a long time before she finally got the right diagnosis. “It was almost a relief because I finally knew what was wrong with me,” Hartong said.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder with symptoms of widespread muscle and joint pain, accompanied by fatigue and problems with sleep, memory and mood. Researchers believe that with fibromyalgia, the brain amplifies the pain signals it gets. About 75 percent of those who suffer from fibromyalgia are undiagnosed. Some people live with pain for years. Many patients receive treatment that’s ineffective or even harmful.

Researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center formed a multi-disciplinary team to see if they could develop a laboratory test to diagnose this disorder and make it easier for patients to get some relief. Dr. Kevin Hackshaw led the study.

“Many of the patients with chronic opiate use turn out to have underlying fibromyalgia. So in fact, if that was recognized then we could realize that we can stem the tide of treating them inappropriately with opiates,” Hackshaw said.

The result was a simple blood test that could diagnose fibromyalgia with nearly 100 percent accuracy. Hackshaw worked with researchers at the Ohio State food science and technology department. They found that same technology used to quickly analyze different components in food, like protein and fat, can also analyze chemicals in the blood. Dr. Luis Rodriguez-Saona was the study’s co-author.

“We use infrared in many companies to determine protein, fat, moisture, starch levels, fiber in seconds,” Rodriguez-Saona said. Rodriguez-Saona says each person’s blood is unique, like a fingerprint, and this test can show the intricate details of that fingerprint. It can distinguish fibromyalgia from other chronic pain conditions with nearly 100 percent accuracy. The test uses a color-coded computer program. “The brown colored squares, these belong to the fibromyalgia, the red ones are rheumatoid arthritis and the green ones are lupus,” Rodriguez-Saona said.

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Hackshaw says when people learn the results they feel relieved just like Barb Hartong did. “A test like this provides confirmation and validation of the symptoms they’ve been suffering for years,” Hackshaw said.

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but medication, exercise and stress reduction measures can help control the symptoms. Hartong takes medication and sticks to a daily routine. “It’s not just giving me a pill, it’s how do I live? For me, it’s exercise,” Hartong said.

The researchers now want to use the test on a larger group of patients to see if they get the same results. If the test is approved, doctors will be able to diagnose fibromyalgia instantly and save patients years of suffering. (VOA)

Next Story

Gene Expression Signature in Blood May Predict Onset of Tuberculosis

This blood test may predict onset of tuberculosis

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Blood Test
Gene expression signatures in blood could be used to predict tuberculosis at a very early stage. PIxabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have revealed a blood test could predict the onset of tuberculosis three to six months before people become unwell, a finding which could help better target antibiotics and save countless lives. This test is a must for a healthy lifestyle.

For the findings, published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, researchers at University College London sought to identify which, if any, gene expression signatures in blood could be used to predict the disease at a very early stage and before symptoms

Gene expression signatures are single or combined measurements of levels of specific gene products and are being tested in a range of diseases to aid diagnosis, prognosis or prediction of the response to treatment.

Some are already being used to support the management of cancers, but none have reached the clinic in infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB).

“Our findings establish the gene signatures in blood which show most promise for identifying people who are at risk of disease,” said study author Mahdad Noursadeghi, Professor at University College London.

Blood Test
The emergence of gene expression signature blood tests, which can aid diagnosis and early treatment, provides real hope for the management of infectious diseases. Pixabay

“Future development of a blood test based on these findings could make an important contribution to efforts to reduce the impact and spread of this deadly infection,” Noursadeghi added.

For this study, researchers initially conducted a systematic review of published gene signatures found to be present in blood samples from people with TB, compared to healthy individuals.

From this, 17 candidate gene expression signatures for TB were identified, and tested in more than 1,100 blood samples in published data sets from South Africa, Ethiopia, The Gambia, and the UK. Scientists analysed samples from people who had no TB symptoms at the time they gave blood. Those people were then followed up to identify which participants developed TB in the subsequent months.

Researchers found that eight of these signatures, including measurement of expression of a single gene, could predict the diagnosis of TB within three to six months, which falls within the accuracy required by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for new diagnostic tests.

This accuracy was achieved, by revealing the patients’ immune responses to bacteria before the symptoms of the disease develop. “The emergence of gene expression signature tests, which can aid diagnosis and early treatment, provides real hope for the management of infectious diseases,” said Indian-origin researcher and the study’s lead author Rishi Gupta.

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“In this study we identify multiple signatures to identify the onset of tuberculosis, which is extremely encouraging, potentially providing multiple targets for early detection,” Gupta added.

Further development of these tests could help identify people who will benefit most from preventative antibiotic treatment, in order to reduce the occurrence of tuberculosis, the researchers said. (IANS)