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Blood Test For Fibromyalgia

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Reactivity on the APA Assay Correlates with Fibromyalgia Severity in Many Patients


NEW ORLEANS, February 10, 1999 - Autoimmune Technologies, LLC, a New Orleans

biotechnology company, today announced that scientists have discovered a new antibody in the blood

of many fibromyalgia patients. This research is described in an article entitled "Anti-Polymer

Antibody Reactivity in a Subset of Patients with Fibromyalgia Correlates with Severity," which

appears in the February 1999 issue of The Journal of Rheumatology, a prominent scientific journal.

Using a patented blood test called the Anti-Polymer Antibody Assay, or APA Assay, researchers

found anti-polymer antibodies in approximately one-half of all patients who were diagnosed with

fibromyalgia and in more than 60% of the fibromyalgia patients with severe fibromyalgia symptoms.

Patients with diseases frequently confused with fibromyalgia, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic

lupus erythematosus, and systemic sclerosis/scleroderma, had a much lower incidence of these

antibodies than did the fibromyalgia patients.

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic pain disorder that affects millions of individuals, primarily

women, in many countries throughout the world. The cause or causes of fibromyalgia are currently

unknown, but researchers have suggested that trauma, infection, and exposure to environmental

factors may all participate in the development of this debilitating illness. Together with widespread

pain and tender points in various areas of the body, signs and symptoms include fatigue, sleep

disorder, morning stiffness, headache, cognitive problems, and other symptoms. In the United States,

some 3% to 5% of adult women meet the strict diagnostic criteria of the American College of

Rheumatology for fibromyalgia, but as many as 15% to 20% of adult women may have fibromyalgia-

like symptoms.

Fibromyalgia syndrome is often difficult to diagnose, and typically a diagnosis is reached through the

time-consuming and expensive process of ruling out other illnesses that have similar symptoms. In

addition, many physicians consider fibromyalgia to be the result of aging and other normal body

processes and do not regard it as a distinct clinical disorder. The resulting reluctance on the part of

some physicians to attribute their patients' symptoms to a specific illness has added considerably to the

distress of many fibromyalgia patients. Until now, there has been no laboratory test to help identify


"Our results show that there is a unique immunological response in many fibromyalgia patients," said

Russell B. Wilson, Ph.D., president of Autoimmune Technologies and lead investigator of the

published study. "We hope that these findings will lead to a better understanding of the illness and to

the development of treatments for these patients."

It is possible, Dr. Wilson pointed out, that anti-polymer antibodies are associated with one of the

several different causes of fibromyalgia, perhaps the cause that tends to produce the most severe

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