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 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.