The Longest Day of the year, or summer solstice, happens on June 21, 2022. For this reason, the Alzheimer’s Association chose this day to raise awareness across the world about fighting the darkness of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) through fundraising.

To shine a light on the physician burden of managing the AD journey for patients, SYNAPS Dx points to DISCERN™, the first autopsy-validated, highly accurate, minimally invasive skin test informing the diagnosis of AD versus other forms of non-AD dementias and those with AD and other degenerative pathologies.

This test is composed of three discrete assays that accurately assess the loss of synaptic activity in the brain due to AD and has been validated through biopsy. What’s more, the AD test’s assays have demonstrated >95% sensitivity and specificity.

Getting an accurate AD diagnosis is important because treatment options for AD patients are specific and distinct compared to treatments for patients with other forms of non-AD dementia.

Understanding Physician Burden

Physicians routinely perform cognitive testing and imaging to reach an AD diagnosis. They note several unmet needs in this process, namely the lack of a definitive diagnosis, the subjectivity with the current diagnostic pathway and the cost burden for unreimbursed procedures.

To effectively address these unmet needs, they require objective, less invasive diagnostic tests to inform a definitive diagnosis of AD. Many recognize that the ability to differentiate earlier between AD and another form of dementia is increasingly essential, even without specific treatments for AD.

The study found a significant level of need:

9 out of 11 physicians believe that the lack of certainty about the true benefit of aducanumab is an unmet need in AD diagnosis

8 out of 11 physicians underscore the utility of an objective, less invasive diagnostic test

7 out of 12 cited the need for a test that can differentiate AD from other forms of dementia

Additionally, this study showed that 8 out of 12 physicians were likely to order the DISCERN™ test to diagnose patients with suspected AD. 

Physicians Would Likely Opt for DISCERN

Many physicians believe DISCERN™ is well-positioned to reduce or replace costly and often invasive diagnostic tests, including PET scans, brain MRI, CT scans and CSF punctures. Clinical utility of DISCERN™ is unique from other common diagnostic tests as it targets factors related to cognitive loss in AD rather than assessing clinical findings associated with AD, such as amyloid plaque.

Both primary care physicians and specialists indicated that strength of evidence, including test performance characteristics, cost and coverage, are the biggest drivers in the decision to adopt DISCERN™. What’s more, they expect that the test would easily fit into the diagnostic pathway before advanced imaging tests of patients diagnosed with dementia are suspected of having AD.

DISCERN™ meets the unmet need for a diagnostic tool that supports early detection and a simple test that is widely accessible and affordable.

Besides relieving physician burden, DISCERN™ gives patients and families the answers they need and supports the establishment of authorization protocols by payers for prescribing and reimbursing treatment. It also helps pharmaceutical companies identify appropriate clinical trial participants and may provide additional metrics to evaluate treatment response.

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