Press Releases

UC Health Implements New AI-Driven Screening Tool, Treatments For Alzheimer's Disease

Nov. 20, 2023

Cincinnati, OH – UC Health’s UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute is leading the way in implementing cutting-edge screening tools for Alzheimer’s disease and offering patients access to the latest therapies and treatments.

The UC Memory Disorders Center has partnered with Cognetivity Neurosciences, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) healthcare technology company, to implement CognICATM, a cognitive assessment tool, in the clinical setting.

This tool enables primary care and other specialty providers to screen patients who may be at risk for cognitive impairment, including older adults and spine surgery patients. Patients who screen positive on CognICATM will be referred to the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute’s Memory Disorders Center and geriatricians in the health system’s primary care network for further evaluation and diagnosis, allowing detection and treatment to take place as early as possible, when it is most effective.

“This collaboration with Cognetivity, a leader in rapid cognitive screening, will empower our primary care and specialty providers to smartly detect cognitive decline at its early stages and enable early intervention, which we hope will lead to lower mortality and morbidity rates,” said Rhonna Shatz, DO, a physician-researcher at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute and medical director of the UC Memory Disorders Center.

Dr. Shatz is a national leader in the detection and treatment of memory disorders, recently partnering with the Alzheimer's Association and the Ohio Department of Health to lend her expertise to ongoing statewide efforts to develop care systems and pathways to support earlier detection of Alzheimer's.

CognICATM will be one of the tools used by UC Health to identify patients eligible for LECANEMAB, a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in July 2023.

LECANEMAB, also known as Leqembi®, is a monoclonal antibody that helps a patient’s immune system target and reduces harmful amyloid proteins from the brain. These amyloid proteins, specifically amyloid beta, form clumps that contribute to the progression of Alzheimer's disease. 

Unlike other Alzheimer's medications which improve thinking but don't address the underlying causes, LECANEMAB is a disease-modifying treatment that can preserve cognitive function and independence, helping individuals with early-stage Alzheimer's potentially maintain a higher quality of life. It delays the transition between disease stages and the onset of new symptoms and can be taken alongside other Alzheimer’s medications.

"This new therapy and other pathology-specific dementia treatments have catalyzed a sea change in health system infrastructure, including awareness of the importance of early detection of cognitive change, improved screening tools, the use of biomarkers to diagnose memory disorders, and the need for coordination among multiple health systems to ensure safety and monitor progress over time,” Shatz said. “Our team at the UC Memory Disorders Center is proud to be leading the way in this area.”

Initially, LECANEMAB will be offered to a small number of existing UC Health patients who have already been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, confirmed with a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker, and who meet other eligibility requirements for the treatment. However, the goal is to offer access to LECANEMAB to all eligible patients in the region. To meet that goal, the health system is partnering with primary care providers and community health systems to help expand access to the treatment. 

The UC Memory Disorders Center also participates in the Alzheimer’s Network for Treatment and Diagnostics (ALZ-NET), a national research initiative that will monitor LECANEMAB patients and help drive innovation in the delivery of care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. The center also provides patients with access to novel screening tools and a biobank registry to help investigate biomarker changes over time.

As the region’s only academic health system, UC Health provides patients with access to the latest treatments and innovations, including clinical trials. The UC Memory Disorders Center is located within the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, with locations on UC Health’s Clifton and West Chester campuses. The center’s team of fellowship-trained subspecialists provide the highest level of multidisciplinary care for Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders. The UC Memory Disorders Center sees about 3,800 patients each year, including more than 600 patients with Alzheimer’s disease.