Developing a diagnostic test for fibromyalgia

Disease - Fibromyalgia

Lead applicant - Dr David Andersson

Organisation - Kings College London

Type of grant - Special strategic award

Status of grant - Approved

Amount of the original award - £320,539

Start date - 01 March 2022

Reference - TBC

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

This research aims to develop simple tests which will have the potential to significantly reduce the amount of time it currently takes to diagnose fibromyalgia.

Why is this research important?

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain and tenderness all over your body. Currently, there are no diagnostic tests available to diagnose fibromyalgia, and people with this condition are often diagnosed based on how severe and widespread their pain is and if they are experiencing other problems such as sleep, depression and fatigue. Drugs which are used to treat fibromyalgia are only effective in some patients and may bring side effects and decrease in their effectiveness over time.

Previous research has suggested that antibodies can cause the hallmark symptoms of fibromyalgia such as pain, temperature and pressure sensitivities. In their research, antibodies extracted from people with fibromyalgia were injected into mice, which developed similar symptoms to people living with fibromyalgia. Researchers will now further explore the role of these antibodies in people with fibromyalgia and other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

How will these findings benefit patients?

Improving our understanding of fibromyalgia and other rheumatic conditions could accelerate the invention of new treatments and diagnostic tests. Around 20-30% of people with musculoskeletal conditions also meet the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia. This research could improve diagnosis and treatment for people living with fibromyalgia and may establish that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder in its own right.