Breakthrough: a blood test for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia in development

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A blood test has been shown to be effective for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia in studies published in the journal Analyst .

Tony Buffington of Ohio State University and his colleagues (1) used infrared microspectroscopy. The latter provides clues to molecules in the blood based on how molecular bonds vibrate when struck by light.

The content of a sample is identified according to the peaks that appear in the infrared spectrum.

The researchers first microscopically screened blood samples from people with fibromyalgia (14), rheumatoid arthritis (15), and osteoarthritis (12). These other diseases cause symptoms similar to fibromyalgia, but are easier to diagnose.

A computer program was then ” trained ” to recognize the molecular patterns associated with each disease. When blood samples were then submitted to the system, each disease was accurately identified. The technique proved to be very effective, underlines the researcher, no error being made by the system.

” We wish,” he says, ” that this would lead to an objective test that GPs could use, which would allow diagnosis up to five years faster than what usually happens .”

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is currently difficult to ask. The main symptoms of the disease that are persistent pain and fatigue are also present in other diseases, so that doctors tend to rule out other possible causes before diagnosing fibromyalgia, a process that is very long. Other symptoms include sleep disturbance and memory problems or other cognitive problems.

Additional studies are needed to identify the molecules that are responsible for the spectral patterns observed.

Despite the cost of an infrared microscope, says Buffington, the test could be affordable if a central laboratory performed all the sample analyzes. The method using dried blood samples, these could legally be mailed. The university has obtained a patent for this method of diagnosis of so-called functional disorders.


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