Validating and Expanding the Use of RetiSpec: Sharon Cohen, MD, FRCPC


The neurologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto commented on the next research efforts needed to further validate and demonstrate the diagnostic capabilities of RetiSpec. [WATCH TIME: 3 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 3 minutes

"The goal of the Global Alzheimer’s Platform is trying to get the word out. The group that we struggle to attract the most are those who feel they’re at low risk, and are not so motivated to engage. But for normal health control brains, what does the retina look like? This group has a lot to offer.”

With any new modality or treatment, larger scale trials are needed to fully demonstrate therapeutic benefit and safety. Current technologies like PET and cerebrospinal fluid scans have helped detect the pathophysiology of Alzheimer disease (AD); however, they may be invasive, expensive, and not widely available. Retinal imaging, a more newfound phenomenon, may help quantify biophysical and biochemical properties of the disease at different stages. RetiSpec’s hyperspectral retinal imaging system is adding to the promise of these approaches, most recently with positive data presented at the 14th Clinical Trials in Alzheimer Disease Conference, November 9-12, 2021.

In a cohort of 108 participants, RetiSpec’s ability to predict brain amyloid was demonstrated by an area under the curve of 0.88, which corresponded with 86% sensitivity and 80% specificity when the cutoff was applied. Additionally, patients reported an easy and comfortable experience of undergoing the scan and reported high willingness to undergo the scan in the future. Lead author Sharon Cohen, MD, FRCPC, believes that while this data is encouraging, the use of retinal imaging still needs additional validation.

Cohen, neurologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, noted that while there are a number of different ongoing trials looking at these biomarkers, there needs to be larger emphasis on observing healthy brains through retinal imaging. In an interview with NeurologyLive®, she discussed some of the next steps for this type of imaging, along with the reasons for why a broader look at all patients may lead to greater results.

1. Cohen S, Plante A, Hazan Al, et al. RetiSpec’s hyperspectral imaging system: results of a validation study in preclinical AD and MCI. Presented at CTAD 2021; November 9-12. Poster LP16
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