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Novel blood test for pain may help combat opioid epidemic

IANS  |  New York 

A one-of-its-kind blood test to measure in patients could open the door to precision medicine and help stem the tide of the crisis, say researchers.

Until now, to assess - a subjective sensation - doctors had to rely on patients self-reporting or the clinical symptoms.

But the novel blood test can help objectively determine how severe a patient's is, allowing physicians far more accuracy in treating it.

"We have developed a prototype for a blood test that can objectively tell doctors if the patient is in pain, and how severe that pain is," Alexander Niculescu, at Indiana University, said.

With an epidemic raging, Niculescu said never has there been a more important time to administer drugs to patients responsibly.

"The epidemic occurred because addictive medications were overprescribed as there was no objective to measure whether someone was in pain, or how severe their pain was," Niculescu said, in a paper detailed in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

In addition to providing an objective measure of pain, the blood test helps physicians match the biomarkers in the patient's blood with potential treatment options.

The researchers utilise a prescription database to match the pain biomarkers with profiles of drugs and natural compounds catalogued in the database.

"The biomarker is like a fingerprint, and we match it against this database and see which compound would normalise the signature," Niculescu said.

"We have been able to match biomarkers with existing medications, or natural compounds, which would reduce or eliminate the need to use the "

Moreover, the team discovered biomarkers that can also help predict when someone might experience pain in the future - helping to determine if a patient is exhibiting chronic, long-term pain, which might result in future emergency room visits.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 14 2019. 14:14 IST