Preliminary research saw the development of a more definitive method to diagnose fibromyalgia, as compared to the current diagnosis process involving examining tender points and symptoms in patients.
During the 2013 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology held in San Diego, EpicGenetics, a diagnostic medical test developer company based in Santa Monica, California, presented the FM/a test, a blood test designed for fibromyalgia diagnosis. The leader of the company, Bruce Gillis, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, College of Medicine, explains that the test is not only accurate and definitive but would also help to change mind-sets of doctors who do not regard fibromyalgia as a real medical illness. The FM/a test can help break this stereotype and “legitimize the diagnosis” Gillis states. An estimate of 6 million people in America have fibromyalgia and medical professionals cannot rely on a subjective diagnosis technique of eliminating other medical conditions. A proper diagnosis of the chronic pain condition is needed.
How does the FM/a test work to diagnose fibromyalgia?
The test works by measuring pain reducing proteins, in particular, white blood chemokine and cytokine, in patients. According to Gillis, people with fibromyalgia have trouble maintaining normal levels of these proteins in their bodies. Clinical studies of the FM/a test was conducted with a sample size of 477 participants with 160 fibromyalgia patients, 100 lupus patients, 98 rheumatoid arthritis patients and 119 healthy participants. The trial produced positive results with 93% of the fibromyalgia patients being diagnosed correctly and 89% of people without fibromyalgia identified. In other words, initial results shows that the test is 93% sensitive and its accuracy is comparable to HIV test.
These data were presented during the 2013 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology and has not went through “peer reviews” by external experts and medical professionals. Hence, more studies on the test results are required before its publication and approval for use.