Researchers conclusively identified a test for antibodies that form against a particular protein, vinculin, found in the guts of patients, many of whom suffered acute gastroenteritis at some point.
"This is a major breakthrough. It is the first test with a high specificity for IBS, likely based on a pathological mechanism of the disease," co-author Mark Pimentel, the director of the Cedars-Sinai GI Motility Program and the GI Motility Laboratory, said.
In the study, 221 patients were evaluated; some had a diagnosis of IBS, some were diagnosed with IBD and some were healthy, with no symptoms.
Anti-vinculin antibodies were significantly elevated in IBS patients as compared to those with IBD or those who were healthy.
"Until this study, there had been no accurate biomarkers identified specifically for IBS. The new blood test has the potential to distinguish IBS from IBD and reduce the need for unnecessary testing, expense and years of suffering," Pimentel said.
A simple blood test at the first sign of symptoms means patients who have IBS could get effective treatment sooner.