A blood test has been developed by scientists at Oxford University that can predict a person’s chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis up to 16 years before it takes hold. Detecting arthritis early provides a much better chance of effective treatment.
Rheumatoid arthritis, as opposed to osteo arthritis, causes painful swelling in your joints and affects about 600,000 people in England and Wales. It is a far more common disease within elderly people but can affect anyone.
It occurs when some proteins are altered during inflammation which causes an immune response that turns antibodies on themselves.
The scientists tested for antibodies that target a protein which is found in high levels in the joints of people with arthritis..
2000 patients were tested for the antibodies and the results found that this testing could diagnose the disease in around 50 per cent of cases, including some cases not picked up by existing tests. It is also 98 per cent accurate at ruling out RA, according to lead researcher Dr Anja Schwenzer.
“What is particularly exciting is that when we looked at samples taken from people before their arthritis began, we could see these antibodies to cTNC up to 16 years before the disease occurred – on average the antibodies could be found seven years before the disease appeared.
‘‘This early detection is key because early treatment is more effective.’’ Said Professor Kim Midwood from the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at Oxford University.