Aqtual, a precision medicine company using a novel cell-free DNA platform to develop products for chronic diseases and oncology, unveiled research that demonstrates its novel platform can identify synovial gene expression signatures in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) using a blood test. 

The research, presented at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual Convergence meeting, demonstrates that synovial transcriptomic signals were detected in blood plasma using Aqtual’s novel DNA capture platform. The platform was able to comprehensively analyze and characterize molecular signatures in RA and differentiate those signals from other inflammatory conditions, the company says.

“Previously, it was only possible to detect synovial signatures in patients with RA through a biopsy, which is an invasive procedure,” says Peter Taylor, MA, PhD, FRCP, FRCPE and chair of musculoskeletal sciences at the University of Oxford. “Now we have a non-invasive, synovial-specific blood test which will provide patients with a much more efficient pathway to finding the right therapy.”

The study included 191 individuals (89 with rheumatoid arthritis, 29 healthy controls, 61 with other inflammatory conditions, and 12 with osteoarthritis). Aqtual’s platform identified synovial signatures in patients with RA with 96.1 percent specificity and a sensitivity of 90.8 percent.

Further reading: One in Five Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis were Undiagnosed During the Pandemic

Rheumatoid arthritis is a highly debilitating chronic inflammatory disease affecting 1.3 million Americans.(1) With more than 20 FDA-approved drugs across six drug classes, many patients try at least two or three different therapies before finding one that works for them.(2) It is estimated that annual healthcare costs of RA patients in the United States total more than $19B, not including intangible costs like quality of life, premature mortality, and societal costs.(3)

Aqtual’s platform measures epigenetics and transcriptomics by analyzing cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in a single blood draw. Aqtual recently launched its proof-of-concept clinical study PRIMA-102 to evaluate the platform’s ability to select effective treatment for patients with RA.

“Our goal is to reduce the gap between precision medicine and practical clinical solutions for chronic conditions, starting with RA,” says Diana Abdueva, PhD, CEO and founder of Aqtual. “Our test will help guide clinicians in treatment choices, improving patient outcomes and reducing costs. This study is a significant step, and we look forward to further validating our platform.”

Aqtual recently presented research highlighting the economic burden of multiple treatments for patients with RA.


  1. Xu Y, Wu Q. Prevalence Trend and Disparities in Rheumatoid Arthritis among US Adults, 2005-2018. J Clin Med. 2021 Jul 26;10(15):3289. doi: 10.3390/jcm10153289. PMID: 34362073; PMCID: PMC8348893.
  2. Lauper K, Iudici M, Mongin D, Bergstra SA, Choquette D, Codreanu C, Cordtz R, De Cock D, Dreyer L, Elkayam O, Hauge EM, Huschek D, Hyrich KL, Iannone F, Inanc N, Kearsley-Fleet L, Kristianslund EK, Kvien TK, Leeb BF, Lukina G, Nordström DC, Pavelka K, Pombo-Suarez M, Rotar Z, Santos MJ, Strangfeld A, Verschueren P, Courvoisier DS, Finckh A. Effectiveness of TNF-inhibitors, abatacept, IL6-inhibitors and JAK-inhibitors in 31 846 patients with rheumatoid arthritis in 19 registers from the ‘JAK-pot’ collaboration. Ann Rheum Dis. 2022 Oct;81(10):1358-1366. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2022-222586. Epub 2022 Jun 15. PMID: 35705376; PMCID: PMC9484385.
  3. Birnbaum H, Pike C, Kaufman R, Marynchenko M, Kidolezi Y, Cifaldi M. Societal cost of rheumatoid arthritis patients in the US. Curr Med Res Opin. 2010 Jan;26(1):77-90. doi: 10.1185/03007990903422307. PMID: 19908947.