Lupus remains a poorly known or understood disease, with a recent poll by the Lupus Foundation of America finding 51 percent of respondents worldwide did not even know it is a disease — and one that affects an estimated five million people worldwide.
Because such lack of awareness can extent to medical professionals, Exagen announced that, in recognition of Lupus Awareness Month, it is working to promote tests allowing for an earlier lupus diagnosis, and earlier and better treatment.
Exagen released a first test incorporating cell-bound complement activation products (CB-CAPs technology), called AVISE Connective Tissue Disease (CTD), in 2012. The test was created to facilitate early diagnosis and management of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the disease’s most common form.
It now has two tests: the AVISE CTD test and the AVISE SLE Monitor test, launched in 2017. The first works to diagnose lupus by assessing key disease biomarkers via CB-CAPS – markers of inflammatory response. AVISE SLE combines two kinds of biomarkers — anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies, the standard method for diagnosing lupus, and CB-CAPs — to help physicians measure disease severity and how well a patient’s disease is being managed.
The diagnostic tool was shown in multiple studies to be a significant improvement over traditional laboratory tests alone, the company said in a press release.
Lupus symptoms mimic many other illnesses, so diagnosis is difficult and patients often undergo years of testing before a proper diagnosis is made. Complicating this, its symptoms can be unclear, come and go, or change over the course of the disease, the Lupus Foundation reports on its website.
“There is a need for greater awareness among patients and physicians,” Ron Rocca, president and chief executive officer of Exagen, said in the release. “The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier the patient can begin proper treatment.”
“More and more physicians are utilizing AVISE CTD due to its proven track record of aiding in the diagnostic process,” said Arthur Weinstein, chief medical officer at Exagen. “Patients need to know they have a choice and that using a specialized test like AVISE CTD may help their health care providers gain confidence in their diagnosis and ultimately disease management.”
Exagen reports in the release that more than 225,000 AVISE CTD tests have been delivered to 1,500 healthcare practitioners since its launch.
“Increased attention through collaborations and events like lupus awareness month can ultimately make a difference in people’s lives,” Weinstein said. ”Our goal is to help SLE patients shorten the time to their diagnosis, which is nearly six years on average, and to facilitate improved patient health outcomes.”