Potential for Preventing NMOSD, Improving Access to Panel Testing: Sean Pittock, MD

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The director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Neurology provided commentary on the possibility of preventing NMOSD, and the need to improve access to approved therapies and AQP4 testing. [WATCH TIME: 3 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 3 minutes

"My concern is that a lot of patients that should be tested are not being tested. Firstly, we need to think about how to provide access to testing so that patients can get the right diagnosis, and then figure out how we’re going to help those patients."

The story of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is a widely used example of how advanced testing can lead to precision medicine, ultimately turning what was considered a disabling and fatal disorder into a manageable condition. Nearly 20 years ago, researchers at Mayo Clinic discovered a critical serum autoantibody biomarker, the NMO antibody (NMO-IgG). This antibody, and its target, the aquaporin-4 (AQP4) water channel, represented a breakthrough in the diagnosis and treatments for patients with autoimmune disorders, specifically NMOSD, which were plagued by high rates of misdiagnosis for years.

A few years ago, through this biomarker, clinicians broke through with the first therapies to treat the disorder, with pronounced effects on relapses and brain MRI outcomes. Despite 3 approved therapies, many in the field feel that access remains a significant issue, and forces patients to turn to more cheap, off-label methods.

At the 2023 American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting, held April 22-27, in Boston, Massachusetts, NeurologyLive® sat down with NMOSD expert Sean Pittock, MD, to discuss the shift in conversation with these approved treatments. Pittock, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Neurology, provided commentary on the potential to prevent the disorder, the need to improve testing, and overcome access issues.

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