The Institute of Rheumatology at Oxford University has found a blood test marker that could indicate a person's likelihood of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) nearly 16 years before the condition occurs.
A team working at Oxford University have identified a blood test, capable of recognising a protein that will reveal who would be likely to contract the condition.
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is borne from inflammation, which alters certain proteins in the body and leads the body's own antibodies to turn on itself, resulting in this painful affliction.
Tests are currently being carried out to spot antibodies that are altering these proteins and the results are already being used to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.
Although tests for individual proteins have a low rate of diagnosis, a CCP test, which is used to detect synthetic citrullinated peptides - the altered proteins in the body - can more accurately identify RA cases.
Lead researcher on the project from Oxford University Dr Anja Schwenzer said: "We knew that tenascin-C [protein] is found at high levels in the joints of people with RA."
She continued that her and the team decided to see if an amino acid in the protein could be converted and if it could, they would then detect whether this was the protein that was a target for the antibodies that attack the body and lead to RA.
Dr Schwenzer add that this "might also indicate whether it could be used in tests to indicate the disease".
She and her team garnered results from over 2,000 test patients and found that this target could diagnose RA in almost half the cases they studied.
The test also has a 98 per cent accuracy rating at ruling out RA and on average, the attacking antibodies could be found seven years before the disease appeared in a patient.
It's hoped that with this discovery there is potential to help patients with RA receive the right treatment they need as early as possible.
Find the nearest Barchester care home.