World's first blood test diagnoses IBS

May 22, 2015, 6:59 AM EDT
Empty blood collection tubes sit at a Community Clinic Inc. health center in Greenbelt, Maryland, U.S., on Wednesday, April 8, 2015.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common gastrointestinal condition, but has been thought to be psychological in part because of the lack of tests available for it. A new blood test has emerged in the U.S. that brings hope for properly diagnosing the condition. CBS News reports:

An estimated 25 million to 45 million Americans suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, a gastrointestinal condition that can cause miserable symptoms. Making it worse for many patients, there hasn't been a conclusive test to diagnose what's wrong with them. Without proof of a physical cause, some doctors considered IBS a psychological disorder.
But that could finally change with the introduction of two simple new blood tests for spotting the disease. Dr. Mark Pimentel of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles developed the tests.
"We now have a test to say, you have a disease," Pimentel told CBS News. "Having a test like this shortens the time of suffering, it shortens the time of investigation and accelerates getting the patient directly to treatment."
The study compared nearly 3,000 patients already diagnosed with IBS, healthy patients, those with celiac disease, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Blood tests confirmed patients had two antibodies commonly associated with IBS – one with 91.6 percent certainty, and another with 83.8 percent certainty.

The tests will also determine whether a patient has IBS or inflammatory bowel disease – which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, involving chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.

He said the tests confirm when an individual has developed IBS as a result of food poisoning, a major cause of the disorder.
Toxins produced by bacteria, such as salmonella, can severely harm the digestive system by damaging nerves critical to healthy gut function.  
The new blood tests identify the presence and amount of specific antibodies reacting to the toxins.