Study shows no fibromyalgia patients died of COVID-19 or developed severe complications
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#COVID19–A recently published study of thousands of fibromyalgia patients illuminates a pathway to preventing the life-threatening pneumonia, lung damage and immunologic complications that can be caused by a COVID-19 infection, according to EpicGenetics Inc., which funded and conducted the research with the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago’s Department of Pathology. The peer-reviewed research, published in the Journal of Advances in Medicine and Medical Research, found that the immune system deficiencies that define a diagnosis of fibromyalgia also limit potentially fatal complications from a COVID-19 infection.
This discovery may help significantly reduce the persistent number of deaths from COVID-19, a disease that has killed more than 566,000 people in the United States and more than 3 million worldwide.
“This important research shows that the devastating cytokine storm experienced in many COVID-19 patients, which is an over-stimulation of the immune system that can lead to pneumonia and other potentially-deadly symptoms, is not triggered in people with fibromyalgia because their bodies do not produce enough of the key cytokine proteins,” said EpicGenetics CEO Bruce Gillis, MD. EpicGenetics developed the FM/a® Test, the first and only objective, highly sensitive and specific diagnostic blood test for fibromyalgia.
None of the 2,195 fibromyalgia patients who were tested for COVID-19 antibodies as part of the study has died as a result of a COVID-19 infection and only one was hospitalized. The study’s findings suggest aggressive treatment of COVID-19 patients with drugs that hinder the body’s production of key cytokines – IL-6 and IL-8 – could dramatically improve outcomes, Dr. Gillis said. A study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine supports these findings by showing that the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients with drugs that reduced the production of the IL-6 cytokine led to improved outcomes, including survival.
“Tens of thousands of lives could be saved with drugs that drive down the production of these cytokines linked to fibromyalgia,” said Dr. Gillis. EpicGenetics is focused on the improved understanding, diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease marked by multiple symptoms which can include chronic pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety and cognitive problems. This disease is not age, gender or ethnically specific. The varying spectrum of symptoms and a previous lack of objective diagnostics historically created speculation that fibromyalgia was more psychosomatic than physiological, a bias that persists in the public and medical community despite published studies from renown institutions including the Mayo Clinic, the University of Illinois College of Medicine and more, Gillis said. The Mayo Clinic estimates that 1 in 12 people suffers from fibromyalgia, more than twenty times the number of people afflicted with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
It was disbelief in fibromyalgia as a legitimate disease that prompted one of the nation’s largest insurance companies to ask Gillis and his research team at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago to study this medical disorder several years ago. The ensuing research proved that fibromyalgia was in fact a disease linked to the inability of certain white blood cells to produce normal amounts of vital chemokine and cytokine proteins, including MIP-1alpha, MIP-1beta, IL-6 and IL-8, which play important roles in the inflammatory process and the functioning of the body’s immune system.
Those findings were the impetus for the development of EpicGenetics’ FM/a® Test, which became commercially available in 2013 and now is covered by Medicare and most major health insurers. The American Association for Clinical Chemistry cited the test and research behind it with an award for outstanding research in clinical immunology.
EpicGenetics presently has ongoing research collaborations with the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago and an affiliate of the University of Virginia. The company has also funded an ongoing FDA-approved clinical trial at Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital using a novel vaccine application designed to reverse the biology of fibromyalgia.
About EpicGenetics Inc.
EpicGenetics, Inc. is a privately held biomedical company based in Los Angeles, California, that developed and manufactures the FM/a® Test. EpicGenetics is dedicated to improving the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia by offering the first conclusive diagnostic test for fibromyalgia, and by investing in and developing further comprehensive clinical studies at leading medical research centers. More information is available at www.FMTest.com.
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