The Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease: Readying the Health System

Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020

Welcome and Introduction

The Challenges We Face in Advancing the AD Clinical and Research Landscape
Panel chair José Luis Molinuevo, MD, PhD, introduces the symposium’s topics, objectives, and expert panelists before discussing the challenges associated with early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, the referral network, and the recruitment of patients to Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials. He then highlights the added challenges to the patient journey due to Covid-19, before introducing a patient case study. This describes, throughout the symposium, the journey of a patient with the early stages of mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, from initial presentation to receiving a diagnosis.

Pursuing a Memory Complaint: How Do We Better Detect and Refer Patients Earlier?
Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer, PhD, describes the use of cognitive assessments for an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. She, alongside the panel, discusses the use of digital detection tools and telemedicine both pre and post Covid-19, before highlighting some novel digital detection tools that may be available in the future. She describes the use of a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery, and the results of the comprehensive cognitive assessment from the patient case study.

Leveraging Biomarkers for an Earlier Diagnosis of AD
Christopher Rowe, MD, discusses the use of structural and neuroimaging biomarkers in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. He then describes the use of CSF biomarkers in supporting a diagnosis before highlighting some of the challenges associated with CSF and amyloid PET in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. He then, alongside the panel, discusses blood-based biomarkers and their potential future use in aiding the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, he discusses the MRI, amyloid PET, and CSF results in the patient case study. José Luis Molinuevo and the panel then discuss how the patient journey may evolve post Covid-19, highlighting the increased use of telemedicine and digital detection tools.

Preparing the Health System: Where Do We Go from Here?
Marwan Sabbagh, MD, describes some of the ways in which the constraints associated with early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be addressed. He highlights the possibilities of improving diagnostic tools and biomarkers, as well as increasing training across the medical field. Finally, he discusses, alongside the panel, the optimal care pathway to address some of these barriers.

Key Learning Objectives from Biogen’s AAIC 2020 Symposium:

  • Understand the value of an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Gain insights on how comprehensive cognitive assessment tools and fluid and imaging biomarkers can be used to achieve an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Explore the ways in which Covid-19 has affected the patient diagnostic journey and how this may lead to adaptations in patient management in the future
  • Assess the current healthcare system readiness for a paradigm shift to early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

Disclosure: All panelists received honoraria from Biogen for participation in this symposium.

Disclaimer: All of the information discussed today is for informational purposes only; does not constitute medical advice; and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.