A new blood test could help Healthcare Providers in Pain Management face the Opioid Crisis…and win

Personalized Medicine is centered on tailoring therapy for the specific patient based on physical and genetic make up, along with a creative strategy of care to improve compliance and outcomes. Pain Management is increasingly challenging, given the subjectivity of measurement and addictive potential of many drugs. Creating a standardized way of measuring the nature and levels of pain could change the entire treatment strategy, providing relief to patients, by customizing treatment plans for their specific cases.

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, led by Dr. Alexander Niculescu, have developed a prototype for a blood test that can help Healthcare Providers (HCP) be more accurate in the treatment of pain. The test can tell HCP the presence and severity of pain based on the bio markers in the blood.

Given the magnitude of the opioid epidemic nationwide, there could not be a better time to establish a more objective way to measure pain and recommend proper treatments. In many cases, opioids are over prescribed or prescribed in pain that they have no efficacy in, creating a surplus of drugs in the open market. Given the amount of effective alternatives to opioids that are now available, a test like this could create great therapeutic benefit for the pain patient population. The bio markers that are present in the patient’s blood can actually guide the HCP on which drugs would be effective in that specific pain type.

“The biomarker is like a fingerprint, and we match it against this database and see which compound would normalize the signature,” said Niculescu, adding that often the best treatment identified is a non-opioid drug or compound. “We found some compounds that have been used for decades to treat other things pair the best with the biomarkers. We have been able to match biomarkers with existing medications, or natural compounds, which would reduce or eliminate the need to use the opioids.”

Additionally, researchers found that the biomarkers can not only guide HCP decisions on the effective drug for the specific biomarker, but they can also predict which patients will have pain in the future (chronic or long-term pain, which can result in emergency room visits).

For the full article, please visit: https://medicine.iu.edu/news/2019/02/iu-school-of-medicine-makes-breakthrough-towards-developing-blood-test-for-pain/