Tarragona, September 8, 2023. A study led by the Disease Biomarkers and Molecular Mechanisms Research Group (DIBIOMEC) of the Institut d’Investigació Sanitària Pere Virgili (IISPV) and in collaboration with the Rheumatology Service of the Hospital Universitari de Tarragona Joan XXIII has identified new biomarkers in blood that will allow early detection of rheumatoid arthritis. This is a chronic autoimmune disease that involves joint inflammation and bone destruction, and can have devastating consequences for the health of people who suffer from it, because if it is not treated in time it can completely disable them, annulling their mobility and autonomy.
The biomarkers discovered thanks to this study cannot be analyzed with the techniques used in hospitals today; it is necessary to do so using more advanced tools such as metabolomics, which belongs to the so-called omics sciences and allows a more precise, sensitive and complete analysis of the metabolites involved in the onset and development of diseases.
For the time being, this technology is only applied in the field of research and it is hoped that in the future it will be introduced as routine in hospitals. “This study shows how metabolomics would allow early and careful detection of rheumatoid arthritis and would help more people suspected of suffering from it to be diagnosed in time,” explains Dr. Matilde Chacón, the researcher in charge of the DIBIOMEC research group at the IISPV, which carried out the study. It is estimated that with the analysis of classic routine indicators such as ACPA (one of the most valuable nowadays for early detection of the disease) there would still be patients left undiagnosed. “This occurs, among other reasons, because this indicator is not exclusive to rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, with these new biomarkers we would improve the diagnosis of ACPA by almost 3%,” stresses Dr. Matilde Chacón.
Specifically, the study has identified a panel of molecules composed of glyceric acid, lactic acid and 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid as biomarkers for the early detection of the disease: “when all three are altered, it indicates that the person is at an early stage of the disease,” explains the researcher. Moreover, this information could be of great help in developing more effective drugs. The next step to implement this finding is to validate its results with a larger sample of patients with diversified profiles.
Bibliographic Reference: Rodríguez-Muguruza S, Altuna-Coy A, Arreaza-Gil V, Mendieta-Homs M, Castro-Oreiro S, Poveda-Elices MJ, del Castillo-Piñol N, Fontova-Garrofé R and Chacón MR (2023) A serum metabolic biomarker panel for early rheumatoid arthritis. Front. Immunol. 14:1253913. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2023.1253913).