New research from King’s College London could lead to a reliable blood test for fibromyalgia, experts claim.
The team will examine samples and measurements taken from 400 twin volunteers, in which one twin has chronic widespread pain. The samples will be compared with the DNA of the healthy twin to establish the differences and identify biomarkers in the DNA associated with the condition.
“Currently there’s no blood test for fibromyalgia, which makes diagnosis difficult,” explains Dr Frances Williams, lead researcher. “And treatment is limited, and in many cases unsatisfactory.
“Our research will help patients in two ways. First it’ll contribute to our understanding of how fibromyalgia – and other chronic pain syndromes such as irritable bowel syndrome – develop, and point to pain pathways which we may not have suspected.
“Secondly, we hope it’ll lead to identification of a biomarker which we could work into a blood test.
“As well as enabling the condition to be diagnosed more effectively, it could help to ‘stratify’ patients into groups depending on disease severity, which will help in clinical trials of potential new treatments. It might even help us predict how the condition will progress.”
Fibromyalgia is common pain syndrome that causes muscle and bone pain, fatigue and disturbed sleep. It has no obvious physical cause and is difficult to diagnose, treat and manage.
Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison at Arthritis Research UK comments:
“Fibromyalgia is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, partly because we know so little about why it occurs and how it progresses. Being able to diagnose it would be a major step forward, and understanding more about the influence of genetics will allow us to develop treatments specifically for people with fibromyalgia in the future.”
Source: Arthritis Digest magazine, http://arthritisdigest.co.uk