A new test can identify biomarkers in the blood that can help objectively determine how severe a patient’s pain is. The blood test, the first of its kind, would allow physicians far more accuracy in treating pain—as well as a better long-term look at the patient’s medical future.
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. Researchers could utilize a prescription database—similar to fingerprint databases employed by the FBI—to match the pain biomarkers with profiles of drugs and natural compounds cataloged in the database.
Precision medicine for pain
The biomarkers not only match with non-addictive drugs that can treat pain, but 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.
“Through precision medicine you’re giving the patient treatment that is tailored directly to them and their needs,” says Indiana University psychiatry professor Alexander Niculescu, M.D. “We wanted first to find some markers for pain that are universal, and we were able to. We know, however, based on our data that there are some markers that work better for men, some that work better for women. It could be that there are some markers that work better for headaches, some markers that work better for fibromyalgia and so on. That is where we hope to go with future larger studies.”