Rapid Blood Test that Identifies Chronic Pain by Colour
The on-spot blood test named “painHS” has now been designed for the identification and detection of chronic pain through colour biomarkers by Australian scientists. The team believes the breakthrough test revealed at the Faculty of Pain Medicine (FPM) conference in Sydney over the weekend has potential to revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment for those who suffer chronic pain.
“This gives us a brand new window into patients’ pain because we have created a new tool that not only allows for greater certainty of diagnosis but also can guide better drug treatment options,” explains lead on the new research, neuroscientist Mark Hutchinson, who is Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics at the University of Adelaide.
“We are literally quantifying the color of pain,” says Hutchinson. “We’ve now discovered that we can use the natural color of biology to predict the severity of pain. What we’ve found is that persistent chronic pain has a different natural color in immune cells than in a situation where there isn’t persistent pain.”
In addition to providing new biomarker for the presence of pain, the research also suggests that the immune cells actually play a significant role in modulating the sensation of chronic pain. The study advocates new drugs to be investigated that suppress immune pain response in place of concentrating on developing pain-killing drugs that simply target the nervous system.
“We now know there is a peripheral cell signal so we could start designing new types of drugs for new types of cellular therapies that target the peripheral immune system to tackle central nervous system pain.”
Professor Hutchinson said the test also had the potential to revolutionise the treatment of animals. “This has a profound impact not only for human health but also animals. Animals can’t tell us if they’re in pain but here we have a Dr Doolittle type test that enables us to ‘talk’ to the animals so we can find out if they are experiencing pain and then we can help them.”
The team believes “painHS” could be ready for broader use by physicians and GPs within 18 months as a cost effective diagnosis method to determine the severity of chronic pain in patients with lower back pain, fibromyalgia, pelvic pain, cancer pain and migraine.