Big Fibromyalgia Effort Underway to Identify New Pain Pathways


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member

This is big - 400 twins one of which has fibromyalgia...THAT doesn't happen very often...Twin studies are the gold standard for teasing out differences in genes. Study suggest that genetics play a significant role in both FM and ME/CFS. In this study they're going to assess the epigenetics - the factors that turn on and off gene expression - of both twins. They hope to identify biomarkers and new pain pathways that may be a work in FM. They're going to focus on areas in our DNA known to produce pain. Ultimately they hope to come up with a diagnostic blood test - a big step forward for a disease diagnosed by symptoms.
Now scientists at King's College London will examine samples and measurements taken from 400 twin volunteers from the 13,000 Twins UK Bioresource in which one twin has chronic widespread pain, to try to identify biomarkers in the DNA associated with the condition. It will be compared with the DNA of their healthy twin, to establish differences.

"Our research will help patients in two ways. First it will contribute to our understanding of how fibromyalgia – and other chronic pain syndromes such as irritable bowel syndrome – develop – and point to pain pathways, which we may not have suspected.

"Secondly, we hope it will lead to identification of a biomarker which we could work into a blood test. As well as enabling the condition to be diagnosed more effectively, it could help to 'stratify' patients into groups depending on disease severity, which will help in clinical trials of potential new treatments. It might even help us predict how the condition will progress."

Specifically, this study will focus on identifying markers on the outside of DNA that are associated with the switching on or off certain genes. DNA 'switching' is very important to health, as it prevents inappropriate processes from occurring in the body when they should not.

The project aims to assess the profile of DNA markers in healthy and affected twins. If there is a difference between these marker profiles on certain DNA regions associated with chronic pain onset between twins, then this DNA marker could be used as an indicator for disease.

Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison at Arthritis Research UK commented: "Fibromyalgia is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, partly because we know so little about why it occurs and how it progresses. Being able to diagnose it would be a major step forward, and understanding more about the influence of genetics will allow us to develop treatments specifically for people with fibromyalgia in the future."

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