Unlocking a Medical Mystery

Fibromyalgia is a common musculoskeletal condition that causes chronic, widespread pain and fatigue and is potentially disabling. It is often accompanied by a consistent “cluster” of symptomatic concomitant conditions (eg, chronic pain, fatigue, joint stiffness abdominal pain, altered bowel movements, and headaches) that suggest they share an underlying pathophysiology.

Key symptoms/characteristics of fibromyalgia include:

Chronic Headaches
15+ headaches per month
Cognitive Impairment ("Fibro Fog")
short-term memory loss, disorientation
similar to the flu
Emotional Impairment
fatigue, insomnia
Chronic Widespread Pain
lasting ≥3 months
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
abdominal pain, cramping,
changes in bowel movements
Chronic Fatigue
severe, continued tiredness
Other Associated Conditions

Fibromyalgia may affect up to 10 million Americans, and women are far more likely to get this disease than men. Estimates vary; it has been suggested that fibromyalgia is present in at least 2% and possibly as high as 8% of the U.S. population. Still, despite the increase in research since the late 1970s, there are no specific lab tests to diagnose fibromyalgia and there is no cure. For the most part, the exact cause of fibromyalgia is not completely understood.

Scientists and clinicians can agree that in patients with fibromyalgia there is a problem with central pain processing. The exact nature of the heightened pain sensitivity in fibromyalgia patients is poorly understood; nonetheless, it is generally believed that the central sensitization is secondary to some combination of genetic and environmental factors that predisposes the patient. Physical trauma, infection, emotional distress, endocrine disorders and immune activation have all been hypothesized as potential triggering phenomena in susceptible patients.

Modern therapies have been focused on treating the symptoms of FM (eg, pain), but these treatments do not address the underlying cause of the disease. While any progress is welcomed, there is still significant room for improvement in expanding FM treatment options. This is exemplified by the fact that just over one in two (56%) patients currently diagnosed with FM are actively being treated with prescription medication, largely due to the side effect burden associated with approved treatments. Furthermore, the dearth of viable treatment options has led to 40% of FM patients being treated with opioids, despite the fact that published studies confirm opioid treated FM patients have worse outcomes than FM patients not treated with opioids. In short, there is ample opportunity to advance FM patient care with a safe and effective new treatment option. 

Virios is committed to improving the treatment standards for the millions of FM patients across the globe and hopes to one day bring to market a treatment that targets a root cause of the condition.