Australian researchers have developed a new blood test, called painHS, which instantly identifies the severity of chronic pain by using colour biomarkers.
The research was led by Mark Hutchinson who is a neuroscientist and the director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics at the University of Adelaide.
painHS employs light measurement tools to carry out hyperspectral imaging analysis for detecting the molecular structures of pain in blood cells.
Contrary to the team’s previous painSEQ and painCELL tests that take around 1-2 days, painHS is designed for immediate diagnosis through a simple colour biomarker approach.
Hutchinson noted: “We are literally quantifying the colour of pain. We’ve now discovered that we can use the natural colour of biology to predict the severity of pain.
“What we’ve found is that persistent chronic pain has a different natural colour in immune cells than in a situation where there isn’t persistent pain.”
Expected to be a cost-effective option, painHS will potentially be available for use in 18 months to identify the severity of chronic pain in patients suffering from fibromyalgia, lower back and pelvic pain, migraine and cancer pain.
The team believes that the test can specifically help with diagnosis in people who cannot communicate the extent or source of their pain, such as babies and dementia sufferers.
They further expect the test to aid in the development of next-generation drugs targeting chronic pain conditions, as well as to eliminate the use of placebos in clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of an investigational drug.
Hutchinson said: “This gives us a brand new window into patients’ pain because we have created a new tool that not only allows for greater certainty of diagnosis but also can guide better drug treatment options.”