By Donna Gregory Burch.
iQuity, a Nashville-based data science company, is now offering a blood test to aid in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The IsolateFibromyalgia test relies on RNA gene expression to identify fibromyalgia, a disorder of unknown origin that causes body-wide pain, fatigue, cognitive issues and other debilitating symptoms.
“RNA analysis is a cutting-edge tool for doctors that has great potential in the field of medical diagnostics,” said Chase Spurlock, iQuity’s CEO, 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. That information can speed up the pace of diagnosis for physicians, leading to faster, more effective treatment for patients.”
The IsolateFibromyalgia test is 94 percent accurate, based on iQuity’s clinical validation studies. To develop the test, iQuity compared the long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) of:
106 fibromyalgia patients
353 disease controls, including patients with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other rheumatic conditions, plus those with moderate or severe depression
136 healthy controls.
After comparing the three groups, iQuity researchers were able to identify a specific lncRNA pattern among those with fibromyalgia.
(Read: What is RNA and how is it different than DNA?)
iQuity offers similar tests for multiple sclerosis and IBS/IBD.
Asked if the pattern sheds any light on the underlying mechanisms of fibromyalgia, Spurlock said it’s too early to tell.
“Many of the lncRNAs that are very specific for a disease have never been discovered before so with each lncRNA we identify, it’s a brand new era as we go in and try to ascribe a function to those lncRNAs,” Spurlock said during a recent interview. “We don’t know enough about the biology of the lncRNAs to know what each of these specific lncRNAs might do within the context of a living cell. Our next step will be more of a mechanistic investigation to say given that we see these big differences in these lncRNAs, what might they do and how might they function in a living cell?”
The IsolateFibromyalgia test costs $599 and is not currently covered by health insurance. Patients who can’t afford the test outright can apply for a six-month, no-interest credit option through Paypal Credit. Patients without a medical provider will soon be able to access the test via HealthTestExpress.com.
iQuity requires a doctor’s order for the test, and results are usually available within seven days.
Since the test is new, iQuity has developed a brochure that patients can print and take to their next doctor’s appointment to facilitate conversation.
“One of the things we want to do is provide clinically useful information for doctors,” Spurlock said. “It’s our goal that [fibromyalgia] not be a disease of exclusion and that providers can actually have actionable information from day one. Too often these patients can go down very different treatment paths, and they can also go from one physician to another, trying to get an answer so we’re committed to providing an answer as fast as we possibly can.”
Fibromyalgia is generally a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning physicians attempt to rule out conditions with similar symptoms before diagnosing fibromyalgia.
There is currently one other fibromyalgia blood test on the market, the FM/a test from EpicGenetics, although it is not widely accepted by the medical community.
Now it’s your turn: Would you be interested in having iQuity’s new fibromyalgia blood test? Why or why not? Share in the comments!
Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue and other symptoms. She was later diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Donna covers news, treatments, research and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia and Lyme on her blog, FedUpwithFatigue.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.