BY : CAROLINA HENRIQUES
IQuity has developed a blood test that uses RNA gene expression analysis to diagnose fibromyalgia.
The IsolateFibromyalgia test can evaluate whether a person’s gene expression pattern is consistent with fibromyalgia. Expression is the process by which information from a gene is used to create a functional product like protein or RNA.
IsolateFibromyalgia is 94 percent accurate, the company said.
IQuity developed RNA blood tests for three other conditions in 2017. One test is for multiple sclerosis and the other for irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
“RNA analysis is a cutting-edge tool for doctors that has great potential in the field of medical diagnostics,” Chase Spurlock, IQuity’s CEO, said in a press release.
“Unlike DNA, which can predict the risk of certain diseases, RNA shows what’s taking place right now in a patient’s cells,” he said. “That information can speed up the pace of diagnosis for physicians, leading to faster, more effective treatment for patients.”
The first step in developing IsolateFibromyalgia was obtaining blood samples from diagnosed patients and healthy subjects. The next step was using machine learning to develop an algorithm that could detect fibromyalgia accurately.
“The extensive disease controls used in the creation of IsolateFibromyalgia make the test highly accurate in differentiating fibromyalgia from conditions that it mimics or that could be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia,” the company said. “IQuity’s researchers examined approximately 600 samples from patients suffering from a number of conditions, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus and clinically diagnosed depression, as well as healthy patients.”
Because fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose, the average time to an accurate diagnosis is five years. Experts believe that 70 percent of the six to 12 million Americans with fibromyalgia remain undiagnosed.
IQuity developed the test to change this scenario. If doctors suspect a person has fibromyalgia, they can order it from IQuity’s website. The results will be available within seven days of the laboratory receiving the sample.
“Living with the pain of fibromyalgia is often compounded with confusion and uncertainty when patients don’t know the cause of their illness,” Spurlock said. “IsolateFibromyalgia provides useful information that improves the efficiency of the diagnostic process for doctors.”
IsolateFibromyalgia will not initially be available in California, Florida and New York. The company plans to obtain licenses for the product in those states as well.
IQuity’s two other RNA blood tests are IsolateMS for multiple sclerosis and IsolateIBS-IBD for irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.