Image via WikipediaI met with Dr. Bruce Gillis this past Wednesday in his offices in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Gillis is an internist who is affiliated with the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Dr. Gillis is the principal investigator of a research study that is currently investigating whether a blood test has the potential to diagnose fibromyalgia.
Dr. Gillis explained that while doing related research, he happened to discovered a particular cytokine profile in the blood that appeared to confirm whether a person has fibromyalgia or not. He shared that this unexpected finding has the potential to significantly change how fibromyalgia is diagnosed. According to his EpicGenetic website, this blood test would result in a validated, objective way to diagnose fibromyalgia. Right now, fibromylagia is diagnosed by ruling out other medical conditions and by using the subjective tender point examination as pictured above.
What are cytokines? The simple answer is that cytokines are small protein molecules released by nerve and immune cells that send signals to other cells in the body to do things like alter cell functions and increase/decrease the regulate of genes. In the case of fibromyalgia, these messengers cause the central nervous system to create the widespread body pain characteristic of fibromyalgia as well as other physiological, hormonal and behavioral changes.
Dr. Gillis went on to explain a very interesting and unique aspect to this potentially ground-breaking test. He asserts that not only can it diagnose fibromyalgia, it can also provide valuable information about whether or not a particular treatment is working to relieve symptoms. Once diagnosed, he envisions your doctor re-testing you after you begin a particular treatment. He believes that a change in your cytokine profile would indicate if the treatment is successfully targeting your fibromyalgia symptoms. That sounds very promising indeed.
Another encouraging finding according to Dr. Gillis is that during clinical trials this particular blood test has been shown to be about 95% accurate in detecting fibromyalgia. By comparison, the blood test for rheumatoid arthritis is only about 80% accurate.
Finally, Dr. Gillis wants you to know that his study continues to actively recruit volunteers. While many persons living with fibromyalgia have come forward to schedule appointments, often their symptoms interfere with their ability to follow through and keep their appointments. So if you live in or near the Los Angeles area, please consider volunteering for this research study.
To learn more, read the online recruitment flyer or call (310) 586-1919 or (310) 586-2929 for more information.