(Picture: Ella Byworth)On average, women seven years after they start to experience symptoms to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
The condition means the lining of the womb grows elsewhere including on the fallopian tubes and bladder.
It can cause extreme pain and problems with infertility.
But many people wait years before they are officially diagnosed – and therefore, they face a long time without any treatment.
Until now, the only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis has been via laparoscopy – a type of keyhole surgery where a camera is inserted into the pelvis to look at internal organs.
But thanks to a new blood test developed by MDNA Life Sciences and experts at the University of Oxford, women could be diagnosed through a simple blood test, receiving the results a few days later.
They hope the test will be available privately in the next nine months at a cost of £250 but it could be available on the NHS in the future.
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)The Mitomic Endometriosis Test, which was developed at MDNA’s Newcastle lab, looks for biomarkers of endometriosis in the blood through the close examination of mutations in mitochondrial DNA.
A study published in the journal Biomarkers in Medicine found that these newly-identified biomarkers can accurately detect endometriosis in blood samples in up to nine out of 10 cases, even in the early stages of the condition.
The group are creating test kits for laborites across the UK, similar to the ones they have already created for prostate cancer.
They are releasing blood tests for ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer and hope to develop tests for lung, liver, and stomach cancers could by 2021.
Dr Christian Becker, from the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Endometriosis not only causes enormous suffering to the affected women, but also brings a tremendous medical and economic burden to bear on society.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Symptoms vary from person to person but some of the most common include:
Painful, heavy, or irregular periods
Pain during or after sex
Painful bowel movements
‘There is a long lag phase between the onset and diagnosis of the disease, mainly due to its non-specific symptoms and because it can only be diagnosed invasively by laparoscopy.
‘A specific, non-invasive test to aid diagnosis of endometriosis is certainly an unmet clinical need.’
Dr Andrew Harbottle, MDNA Life Sciences’ chief science officer, said: ‘Mutations in mitochondrial DNA act as ideal biomarkers, providing us with a unique and detailed diary of damage to the DNA and accurately detecting many difficult-to-diagnose diseases and conditions, such as endometriosis.’
Harry Smart, MDNA Life Sciences’ chairman said: “We are the only company to use mitochondrial DNA to detect diseases and have developed a library of 16,000 biomarkers to date.
‘Our groundbreaking test for endometriosis will fundamentally change the way this debilitating disease is detected and diagnosed.
‘We look forward to helping UK women get treatment sooner, reducing their pain and distress and providing cost savings to health services.’
MORE: Hunter the Shiba is a professional painter who makes thousands from his abstract masterpieces
MORE: Woman felt ‘like a zombie’ when her skin peeled off because of ‘addiction’ to eczema cream