Finger-stick blood sample to diagnose fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is characterized by all-over pain and weakness, and is often associated with depression and other mental health conditions. Yet despite its defined parameters, it can be very difficult to diagnose. Doctors need to rely on a trial-and-error series of tests that eliminate other conditions one by one before finally settling on fibromyalgia, a process which can sometimes take years. Now, however, researchers at Ohio State University believe they have found a way to get a fast, reliable diagnosis using a simple finger-stick blood sample.
In the pilot study, scientists used a high-powered and specialized microscope to detect the presence of small molecules in the blood that are known to be associated with fibromyalgia. Infrared microspectroscopy was used to identify the molecules, which identifies where peaks of molecules appear in the infrared spectrum. After "training" the equipment to recognize molecular patterns, the microscope could spot the differences between fibromyalgia and two types of arthritis that share similar symptoms. Using 41 dried blood samples – 14 of which were fibromyalgia cases and 27 arthritis cases – the machinery was able to accurately identify the molecular patterns of each condition.
Though the technology is expensive, a centralized lab could be used to run samples. Researchers see the process as potentially a major breakthrough in fibromyalgia treatment.