A biomarker linked to both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis has been found by researchers at the University of Warwick´s Medical School.
The discovery could lead to the first blood test for osteoarthritis. That could potentially allow patients to be diagnosed several years before physical symptoms develop, giving the best chance of effective treatment, Warwick Medical School said.
Blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are already available, but the newly identified biomarker could lead to one which can diagnose both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis (OA).
The breakthrough came when the Warwick researchers found for the first time increased levels of citrullinated proteins (CPs) in both early-stage OA and RA.
Next, they produced an algorithm of three biomarkers: CPs, anti-CP antibodies and the bone-derived substance hydroxyproline. Using the 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 university explained.
Dr Naila Rabbani, who led the research, commented: “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.
“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 findings of the research have been published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.