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First Blood Test for Osteoarthritis Could Soon Be Available

Scientists detect disease before symptoms appear

The first blood test for osteoarthritis (OA) could soon be developed, according to investigators at the University of Warwick’s School of Medicine in the United Kingdom.

The research findings could potentially lead to patients being tested for OA and diagnosed several years before the onset of physical symptoms.

The researchers identified a biomarker linked to both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and OA.

Whilst there are established tests for RA, the newly identified biomarker could lead to one that can diagnose both RA and OA.

The research focused on citrullinated proteins (CPs), a biomarker suspected to be present in the blood of people with early-stage RA. It has been established that patients with RA have antibodies to CPs, but it was not thought that this was the case for people with OA. However, the researchers found increased CP levels in both early-stage OA and RA.

They then produced an algorithm of three biomarkers: CPs, anti-CP antibodies, and the bone-derived substance hydroxyproline. Using this algorithm, the researchers found that with a single test they could potentially detect and discriminate between the major types of arthritis at the early stages, before joint damage has occurred.

The ability to discriminate between RA and OA could provide a number of benefits to patients, including early diagnosis.

Lead researcher Dr. Naila Rabbani said: “Detection of early-stage OA made the study very promising, and we would have been satisfied with this only –– but beyond this, we also found we could detect and discriminate early-stage RA and other inflammatory joint diseases at the same time. This discovery raises the potential of a blood test that can help diagnose both RA and OA several years before the onset of physical symptoms.”

The research was published in Nature Scientific Reports.

Source: EurekAlert; March 20, 2015.

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