Thursday, August 1, 2013

Blood Tests for Fibromyalgia: Is it purely by accident or could researchers be on to something?

Could it be researchers are on to a new way of thinking, completely moving away from any hypothesis that fibromyalgia is a “polysymptomatic syndrome” as suggested by some doctors?  Are researchers on to something big for fibromyalgia patients?

In less than six months, we have two studies reporting on successful analysis of fibromyalgia using blood markers, which is a realm way beyond more than a debate.  If there is anything that makes a researcher excited, it is making a breakthrough. It is a win for the scientific community and a win for the patient. Expect more research, because the race is on and oh what a glorious race it will be for those of us who live with FM every single day.

Is it more than coincidence? Following are excerpts from the two studies. You decide.

Behm FG, Gavin IM, Karpenko O, Lindgren V, Gaitonde S, Gashkoff PA, Gillis BS. Unique immunologic patterns in fibromyalgia. BMC Clin Pathol. 2012 Dec 17;12(1):25. doi: 10.1186/1472-6890-12-25.
The cytokine responses to mitogenic activators of PBMC isolated from patients with FM were significantly lower than those of healthy individuals, implying that cell-mediated immunity is impaired in FM patients. This novel cytokine assay reveals unique and valuable immunologic traits, which, when combined with clinical patterns, can offer a diagnostic methodology in FM.

Hackshaw KV, Rodriguez-Saona L, Plans M, Bell LN, Buffington CA. A bloodspot-based diagnostic test for fibromyalgia syndrome and related disorders. Analyst. 2013 Apr 17. [Epub ahead of print]
 “Metabolomic analysis revealed that RA and OA groups were metabolically similar, whereas biochemical differences were identified in the FM that were quite distinctive from those found in the other two groups. Both IRMS and metabolomic analysis identified changes in tryptophan catabolism pathway that differentiated patients with FM from those with RA or OA.”

Side note: See the recent National Pain Report article and Pat Anson’s interview with Dr. Bruce Willis here


Having a reliable blood marker will do more than validate us as patients; it will open a field of dreams and possibilities for researchers compassionate about defining this horrible disorder.  Once we have a biological test, we will know that study participants do indeed have fibromyalgia. There will be no skewed results, and the talk of psychological illness will be in our review mirror.  This is a savory thought.

Bon appetite!

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