A new blood test for fibromyalgia is more accurate than expected and will not confuse the chronic pain disorder with other diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, according to the doctor who developed the test.
“We found no overlap between biomarkers of fibromyalgia and the immune system profiles of patients with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. This has the effect of exhaling the minds of opponents, “said Bruce Gillis, MD, founder and CEO of EpicGenetics, a bioresearch company based in Santa Monica, California.
A new blood test for fibromyalgia is more accurate than expected and will not confuse the chronic pain disorder with other diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, according to the doctor who developed the test.“We found no overlap between biomarkers of fibromyalgia and the immune system profiles of patients with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. This has the effect of exhaling the minds of opponents, “said Bruce Gillis, MD, founder and CEO of EpicGenetics, a bioresearch company based in Santa Monica, California.
EpicGenetics launched the FM test in March, calling it the first definitive blood test for fibromyalgia, a misunderstood condition characterized by deep tissue pain, fatigue, headache, depression and lack of sleep. Test results are usually available in about a week.
The FM test looks for protein molecules in the blood, the so-called chemokines and cytokines, which are produced by white blood cells. According to Gillis, fibromyalgia patients have fewer chemokines and cytokines in their blood and therefore have a weaker immune system than normal patients.
Critics have indicated that the same biomarkers of the immune system can be found in people with other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, making the blood test unreliable.
In a new research involving more than 300 patients with fibromyalgia, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, Gillis said only fibromyalgia patients had lower chemokines and cytokines than normal.
“They do not have the same biomarkers of the immune system. Not at all, “Gillis told the National Pain Report. “The models we see in lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, we see this inflammatory process. However, we do not see the same biomarkers in fibromyalgia. “
Gillis said the research is complete and he hopes that it will be published in a medical journal in the coming months.
When the FM test was introduced, EpicGenetics said it was 93% accurate in diagnosing fibromyalgia. Gillis says the sensitivity of the test is now estimated at 99%, which is about the same as the test used to diagnose HIV.
Dr. Bruce Gillis
According to estimates by the National Institutes of Health, 5 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia – and millions worldwide – but so far only a few hundred have signed up for the FM test. According to Gillis, the cost of $ 744, which is not normally covered by health insurance, could be an obstacle for many patients.
“Many people diagnosed with fibromyalgia do not work. And because they do not work, they can not afford to pay for a test. They are not health insured, “Gillis said, adding that some insurers paid the test in compensation cases for employees.
“When we started it cost us $ 12,500 to analyze the parameters of a patient’s immune system. So we lowered prices, very low. “
Gillis hopes to lower the price of the FM test by allowing other laboratories to collect blood and send blood samples to EpicGenetics.
Regardless of the cost, patients with fibromyalgia are excited that eventually a simple test is available to diagnose a disorder in which their physicians and relatives are often skeptical. The diagnosis of an average patient with fibromyalgia takes three to five years.
“Having a reliable blood marker will more than just confirm us as a patient. It will open a field full of dreams and opportunities for compassionate researchers to define this terrible disorder, “said Celeste Cooper, a fibromyalgic patient.
“Once we have a biological test, we will know that the study participants have fibromyalgia. There will be no twisted results and the discussion of the mental illness will take place in our examination mirror. It’s a tasty thought. “
There have been several potential breakthroughs in fibromyalgia research in recent months.
Ohio state researchers are in the early stages of developing another type of blood test for fibromyalgia. Using a high-power infrared microscope, they identified a model of molecules in the blood that seems unique to fibromyalgia patients.
Another research team in the state of New York has discovered that fibromyalgia has excessive sensory nerve fibers in the blood vessels of their hands that can disrupt blood flow throughout the body.
“In less than six months, we have received two studies that report a successful analysis of fibromyalgia using blood markers. Now he appears to be entering an area that transcends more than one debate,” says Cooper.
“This is a victory for the scientific community and a victory for the patient. I doubt that this is the last one. Expect more research during the race and what a glorious race it will be for those of us who live with fibromyalgia every day. “
The research could also lead to the discovery of a genetic marker for fibromyalgia – a gene that increases the likelihood of disease in some people.
EpicGenetics is rescuing numerous blood samples from patients who have passed the FM test, hoping one day to examine them for RiboNucleicAcid (RNA), molecules involved in protein synthesis, and the transmission of genetic information.