Systemic lupus erythematosus: aiming for a quicker diagnosis to allow faster treatment

Avise: a new lupus test that may help speed up an accurate diagnosis

Categories: For Potential Participants, [Lupus, Lupus diagnosis, New lupus research]

The diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common form of lupus, is challenging because symptoms vary from one person to another, and other diseases can cause similar symptoms. It takes 6 years on average before the doctor can make a diagnosis, which may still be unreliable. For patients with SLE, it is especially important to shorten the time to diagnosis. Early diagnosis combined with timely and targeted treatment has the potential to improve general well-being and prevent permanent damage to the kidneys, heart, lungs, and other organs.

Currently, there is no single test to diagnose SLE. Doctors will often rely on a range of biomarkers. Biomarkers (or biological markers) are molecules, genes, or characteristics that can help us identify or measure normal or disease processes in the body. Commonly used biomarkers for SLE, some of which you may have seen on your test results, include anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA), double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid (anti-dsDNA), Smith antigen (anti-Smith) antibodies, and complement proteins C3/C4. Unfortunately, the clinical results from these tests are often inconclusive and have technical limitations; they may suggest SLE in patients without the disease, or fail to detect SLE in patients who have the disease.

The Avise lupus test was developed to solve those limitations when diagnosing patients with suspected SLE or related conditions with similar symptoms. The test relies on a 2-step process, which evaluates the levels of specific biomarkers and autoantibodies in your body, and provides a number that suggests how likely a person is to have SLE. A recent study suggests that the Avise lupus test may be particularly useful in the diagnosis of SLE in difficult-to-diagnose patients. Future studies will aim to confirm these results, and find out if this test can give us information on how SLE may change over time.

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