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IBS blood tests could mean earlier diagnosis, expert says

Two new blood tests may help quickly and accurately diagnose irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), research suggests.

The tests, developed by Mark Pimentel, director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, could confirm when a patient has developed IBS because of food poisoning, a major cause of the disorder.

The study looked at nearly 3,000 people, and compared IBS patients to those diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease and those with no gastrointestinal disease. The blood tests identified the two antibodies associated with IBS, with what they've said is greater than 90% certainty.

Toxins produced by bacteria during a bout of food poisoning could damage nerves that are critical for a healthy gut function. The new blood tests identify the presence and amount of specific antibodies reacting to the toxins.

IBS is thought to affect up to one in five people at some point in their life, and key symptoms of the disorder are abdominal pain and cramping, a change in bowel habits and stomach bloating, according to the NHS.

"Having an early diagnosis means patients can avoid years of invasive tests and visits to specialists that often leave them with more questions than answers," Pimentel said. "With these new blood tests, many patients will now be able to proceed right to therapy for their condition."

Pimentel will present the research on May 17 at Digestive Disease Week 2015 in Washington, D.C and the tests are called IBSchek and produced by Commonwealth Laboratories Inc., in Salem, Massachusetts.