New FDA-Approved Blood Test Will Make Diagnosing Lupus Easier
Some diseases are fairly easy to diagnose. For others, doctors may have a challenging time putting a finger on exactly what is going on with you. Your symptoms may vary or overlap with several other disorders. If you suspect you have lupus, you may now have an easier time getting to the root of what’s going on with you thanks to a new test.
A new blood test for detecting lupus
The FDA has approved a new diagnostic blood test for lupus. How exactly does the test work? The test identifies the autoimmune disease by detecting a specific lupus-related antibody in people who are antinuclear antibody-negative, according to a recent update from the Lupus Foundation of America.
Antinuclear antibodies attack the body’s healthy cells and nearly all people with lupus — or about 97% — are antinuclear antibody-positive, according to the organization. If lupus is suspected, you can expect your doctor to order an antinuclear antibody-positive blood test. However, the challenge is that if you fall in the small percentage of people with lupus that is antibody-negative, you may have a hard time getting diagnosed. This is why the new diagnostic test will be “vitally important” for diagnosis.
“Autoimmune diseases like lupus can be challenging to diagnose,” the organization said. “New, reliable test options can help healthcare providers identify the disease more quickly — ultimately helping people with lupus get the treatment they need sooner and improving clinical outcomes.”
How does the test work?
So what exactly can you expect from this new test?
The new test, called EliA Rib-P, was developed by the biotechnology company Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. to detect monospecific ribosomal P antibodies.
The test is designed with “optimal sensitivity and specificity” to support the diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus, which is the most common kind of lupus, the company said in an announcement.
“Autoimmune diseases can be a challenge to diagnose,” Henry Homburger, MD, professor emeritus of laboratory medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and the laboratory director for the Thermo Fisher Phadia Immunology Reference Laboratory, said in the statement.
“Reliable and accurate laboratory tests that provide clinical clarity are essential tools for clinicians managing these patients,” he added.
When to see a doctor
You may know someone with lupus and discover that your symptoms are completely different from what they are experiencing. That is because no two cases of lupus will be exactly alike.
Most people with lupus experience mild disease characterized by episodes — called flares. Signs and symptoms typically get worse for a while, then improve or even disappear completely for a period of time.
The signs and symptoms you experience will be unique to you because they will depend on which body systems are affected by the disease.
The most common symptoms of lupus are:
• Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
• Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body
• Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure
• Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Dry eyes
• Headaches, confusion, and memory loss
If you develop an unexplained rash, ongoing fever, persistent aching, or fatigue, it is a good idea to get checked out by your doctor. He or she can help you determine the next steps to get to the root of what is going on with you.
Who knows this new test might be just what you need to finally get a diagnosis and find some relief.
by Jason Henderson