Revolutionary new blood test can instantly identify chronic pain

A new blood test that can identify chronic pain could revolutionize diagnoses for humans and animals

Revolutionary new blood test can instantly identify chronic pain

A world-first blood test that can objectively identify chronic pain has been developed by a team of Australian researchers. The test can reportedly identify color changes in immune cells affected by chronic pain and hopefully give doctors a new way to diagnose the severity of pain in patients unable to adequately communicate it.

“This gives us a brand new window into patients’ pain because we have created a new tool that not only allows for greater certainty of diagnosis but also can guide better drug treatment options,” explains lead on the new research, neuroscientist Mark Hutchinson, who is Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics at the University of Adelaide.

The research team found that there are identifiable molecular changes in immune cells when a person is suffering from chronic pain. Using hyperspectral imaging analysis these pain biomarkers can be instantly identified, meaning a clinician could determine a patient’s pain tolerance or sensitivity and immediately adjust the dosage of a painkilling medication.

“We are literally quantifying the color of pain,” says Hutchinson. “We’ve now discovered that we can use the natural color of biology to predict the severity of pain. What we’ve found is that persistent chronic pain has a different natural color in immune cells than in a situation where there isn’t persistent pain.”

As well as offering a new biomarker for the presence of pain, Hutchinson’s research suggests that these immune cells actually play a significant role in modulating the sensation of chronic pain. This means that instead of concentrating on developing pain-killing drugs that simply target the nervous system, new drugs may be investigated that suppress this immune pain response.

“We now know there is a peripheral cell signal so we could start designing new types of drugs for new types of cellular therapies that target the peripheral immune system to tackle central nervous system pain,” says Hutchinson.

The test, called “painHS”, could potentially be ready to roll out into broad clinical use within 18 months, but the broader implications of this kind of objective blood test for pain is where things get really interesting. Hutchinson hopes this test could assist in diagnosing pain in subjects that cannot communicate their discomfort, from babies to older sufferers of dementia. The test may also be applicable to animals, which Hutchinson suggests could revolutionize the entire field of veterinary treatment.

“Animals can’t tell us if they’re in pain but here we have a Dr Dolittle type test that enables us to ‘talk’ to the animals so we can find out if they are experiencing pain and then we can help them,” says Hutchinson.

The new test was revealed at the Faculty of Pain Medicine (FPM) conference in Sydney over the weekend.



8 Responses

  1. […] comes with unintended consequences, so who knows how this will bite us.  I have high hopes that this will be a good thing.  I am sure it will be used […]

  2. And how would that work with the other issues people can have like not being someone who can metabolize pain meds orally so needs injections, or who metabolizes meds more quickly and needs higher doses, or is red headed and needs higher doses due to that? I would HATE for this test to be the only way to control what medication I am getting and how much. Maybe some meds just work better and there is no known test for that? If people are on pain medication already and their pain is well controlled, will it give the same results as someone whose pain is not controlled? If it shows someone whose pain is well controlled and has been for many many years as “not really in that much pain” will they reduce it then refuse to bring it back up? So mny questions on this.

    • My DIL has red hair and while she was on medicine it was never enough even though it should have been enough for most people.

      Palliative care stopped prescribing for all their patients with no advanced notice.

    • ok but in the us so many patients are being taken off their meds as drs claim they are not really in pain..this test could eliminate that argument and prove to the treating dr that yes they really do need their meds; because their pain is real.
      just like any test, report, or “suggested recommended dosages” everything can be misused…but how many people could this test help to get their meds back; or keep others from loosing their meds?
      and yes it could become needed to have the genetic metabolic test for how your meds are absorbed and which meds work, but would that really be a bad thing? if I found a med that worked better than what im on to control my pain, I wouldn’t claim…it could mean I might be able to get my life back…
      basically this test offers hope to so many..right now, the pro’s outweigh the cons…obviously that could change…but keep in mind; any new drug or test takes up to 10+ years to get approved in the US by the FDA….so the reality is this doesn’t and likely wont even be an issue for many years to come

  3. Is this test available in the US? And what is the test name?

    • I would love for my 8 year old GS to have this test. We know he is in pain but he can’t talk. It wouldn’t really matter anyway. If they refuse to treat his mom it’s not likely they will treat him.

  4. Yes. I know that I have pain.

  5. I wonder if this will eventually become mandatory for anyone entering pain management. To ensure their wanting, or to continue their treatment, is legit. Because anyone can say they’re in pain, right?? *voice just oozing sarcasm*

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