With many sufferers still waiting months or even years for a formal diagnosis, US-based company, iQuity, has launched a blood test called IsolateFibromyalgia, which it claims has an accuracy rate in excess of 90% in diagnosing the condition.
The company uses a Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) analysis of blood samples which, they say, can diagnose the condition within 7 days and follows their release of similar tests for multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease.
iQuity CEO, Dr Chase Spurlock said:
“Being immunologists we look at cells of the blood and your blood contains a lot of different cells that recognise danger and recognise disease before we can see it with the naked eye. There’s a lot of communication happening in those cells. What we do is identify that communication and decode that information so that doctors can make decisions about treatment and diagnosis.
“To do this we leverage the power of RNA. RNA is a snapshot of the activity taking place inside cells in your body. With computer programmes and computer machinery, with machine learning advances and our computational advances we can now go into these cells and identify RNAs that signal one disease over another. Even at the earliest clinical time points, RNA can be used by the provider to gauge treatment and diagnosis decisions and this allows the patient to have a chance for less disability in the long term.”
Currently, Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that conditions with similar symptoms are first ruled out before a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is made. With the new blood test, which costs $599, it is hoped that a diagnosis can take place at a very early stage. In turn, this will mean that sufferers can be commenced on the best possible treatment without delay, ensuring a better prospect of a positive outcome.
IsolateFibromyalgia is not the first blood test for the condition. In 2012, EpicGenetics launched the FM/a test. This measures the concentration of immune system cytokines within the blood. The theory is that lower levels of cytokines may be an indicator of Fibromyalgia, although some in the scientific community have labelled the test unreliable, saying that similar levels of cytokines may also be indicative of other conditions.
Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of each test, an element of rivalry is never usually a bad thing when it comes to medical research and development. Whilst both tests are already available to clinicians in the US, clinical research continues. Should one test be proven to prevail significantly over the other in terms of the accuracy of diagnosis, there is potentially a huge market to monopolise.