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New blood test to detect gastrointestinal disorders

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A blood test can now determine if a person is suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (Thinkstock) A blood test can now determine if a person is suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (Thinkstock)
SummaryResearchers have identified a test for antibodies that form against a particular protein, vinculin, found in the guts of patients.

Scientists have for the first time developed a blood test to determine if a person is suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or another serious condition such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Researchers have conclusively identified a test for antibodies that form against a particular protein, vinculin, found in the guts of patients, many of whom suffered acute gastroenteritis at some point.

"This is a major breakthrough. It is the first test with a high specificity for IBS, likely based on a pathological mechanism of the disease," said Cedars-Sinai physician researcher Mark Pimentel, co-author of the study.

In the study, 221 patients were evaluated; some had a diagnosis of IBS, some were diagnosed with IBD and some were healthy, with no symptoms.

Anti-vinculin antibodies were significantly elevated in IBS patients as compared to those with IBD or those who were healthy.

"Until this study, there had been no accurate biomarkers identified specifically for IBS. The new blood test has the potential to distinguish IBS from IBD and reduce the need for unnecessary testing, expense and years of suffering," said Pimentel.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder characterised by diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain. However, millions of patients are never diagnosed correctly.

A simple blood test at the first sign of symptoms means patients who have IBS could get effective treatment sooner.

The research was presented at the American College of Gastroenterology's 78th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego.

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