Blood Test Detects Rheumatoid Arthritis 16 Years Before Onset

Researchers from the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at the University of Oxford in England have discovered a biomarker that can predict the likelihood of developing RA. Great news if you come from a family where rheumatoid disease is present.

The new test looks at protein in the blood and the body’s response by generating antibodies. Tests to detect these antibodies already exist, but with low sensitivity it is not the most reliable method. A more general test called CCP can diagnose RA a lot more accurately by detecting synthetic citrullinated peptides.

 The research team looked at blood test results from more than 2,000 patients who had not been diagnosed with arthritis. The method has a very low false positives rates and is 98% accurate at ruling out RA, according to the report in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (2015).  The researchers discovered that antibodies were generated to the protein (known as cTNC) up to 16 years before the disease occurred – on average the antibodies could be found seven years before the disease appeared.

Early detection leads to more effective treatment, so not only does this additional test help increase the accuracy of the CCP assay, but it also helps spot RA in advance which leads to better patient outcomes.

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