[responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to Post”]
Scientists are closing in on a blood test for fibromyalgia, and the result could save patients from what is currently a lengthy and vague process of diagnosis.
Researchers at Ohio State University are now aiming to have a diagnostic blood test available for widespread use within the next five years.
Their confidence stems from a recently discovered biomarker - a "metabolic fingerprint" as the researchers put it - traceable in the blood of those with the disorder.
"We found clear, reproducible metabolic patterns in the blood of dozens of patients with fibromyalgia," says lead author Kevin Hackshaw, a rheumatologist at Ohio State University.
"This brings us much closer to a blood test than we have ever been."
Fibromyalgia is a common, debilitating, and poorly understood disorder, marked by widespread pain and fatigue, with no known cause and absolutely no cure.
In the United States, it's the most common cause of chronic widespread pain, and that's not even counting the thousands of patients who go undiagnosed every year.
Without a reliable way to detect this disorder, it's estimated that up to three out of four people with the condition remain undiagnosed. And on average it can take five years from when a person's symptoms first appear to them actually receiving a diagnosis.
In total, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about two percent of the population – around four million adults – have fibromyalgia, with women making up a disproportionate slice.