New test could improve lupus diagnosis16th May 2011
A Swedish research team is developing a test which could detect the early stages of lupus and predict flares in people who already have a diagnosis.
The team, led by Christer Wingren of Sweden's Lund University, say they are well on their way to developing the test which could greatly improve the lives of people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
The chronic rheumatic disease affects around five million people worldwide.
Writing in the journal Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, Wingren said the new test will help determine whether someone has SLE much more quickly than currently available diagnostic tests.
Wingren, who is associate professor in Immunotechnology at Lund's CREATE Health, said the test doesn't just detect lupus, but can also determine how far the disease has progressed.
It can also differentially diagnose between the three different variants of SLE, all of which need different treatment.
The test will also be able to predict when the disease will become active, and will predict flares in existing patients.
Currently, doctors do not know which medication to prescribe because current tests make differentiating between different kinds of lupus difficult.
SLE comes and goes in waves known as "flares", during which the patient becomes much sicker than they were before.
The new test uses a chip carrying an array of antibodies in a grid pattern which capture molecules in a single drop of blood from a patient.
The technique gives medical staff a unique fingerprint of the patient's biomarkers, and hospitals could start using it in two-to-three years' time.
The biomarker measurements are then entered into a computer, which processes them for reading by medical staff.
Wingren has spent most of the past decade developing the technique, and has been adapting it for use with SLE.
The test development has relied on a number of patented biomarkers, which are owned by Wingren's company Immunovia.
The test originated in the cancer research carried out by Wingren and colleagues at CREATE Health.
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Title: New test could improve lupus diagnosis
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 18462
Date Added: 16th May 2011