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Diagnostics Analytical science, Biochemistry and molecular biology, Clinical care

A Blood Test for Fibromyalgia

Traditionally, fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion. Rheumatologists rely on patient-reported symptoms, physical examinations, and tests to ensure that there are no identifiable pathologies. But this creates difficulties – patients wait an average of five years for diagnosis, and some may have other conditions that are missed because symptoms are attributed to fibromyalgia.

But what if it could be diagnosed using a simple blood test? A new study has revealed a “metabolic fingerprint” – a unique metabolite profile that can be detected by vibrational spectroscopy and may distinguish fibromyalgia from other rheumatological disorders (1). “We found clear, reproducible metabolic patterns in the blood of dozens of patients with fibromyalgia,” said first author Kevin Hackshaw (2). “This brings us much closer to a blood test than we have ever been.” Spectra also correlated well with patient-reported pain severity – a promising outlook, although the test still requires a large-scale trial.

Kevin Hackshaw examines a fibromyalgia patient.
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  1. KV Hackshaw et al., J Biol Chem, 294, 2555 (2019). PMID: 30523152.
  2. M Crane (2020). Available at:
About the Author
Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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