The Handoff: Your Week in Neurology News – 12/15/16

The Handoff is a weekly roundup of neurology news covering various developments in subspecialties, the pharmaceutical industry, and the overall state of health care as it affects neurologists.

— The NCAA recently honored Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball captain and the man who inspired the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, with the organization’s 2017 Inspiration Award. The challenge has been recognized as the source of funding for several key research advances in ALS since its inception in 2014. 

— Upwards of 13% of the commercial airline pilot population in the US may struggle with depression, according to recent study results. 

— The United Kingdom has officially given a green light to mitochondrial replacement in assisted reproduction, a controversial technique that can prevent genetic mutations responsible for problems with brain development, for example, from being passed on to a fetus. 

— Following its failed solanezumab trial, Eli Lilly is again partnering with AstraZeneca on a new investigational drug for Alzheimer’s disease. 

Scientific American took an in-depth look at sleep disorders and why they may be an early sign of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. 

— The state of California is enforcing baseline and post-fight concussion evaluations in mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters and professional boxers in an effort to inform medical suspensions. 

— Penn Medicine’s Art in Science competition featured several neurology-related entries and winners, including an image of dorsal root ganglia co-cultured with motor neurons submitted by a researcher working on optimizing nerve grafts. 

— Heroin-related deaths have officially surpassed gun-related homocides in the US — a troubling CDC statistic that puts the opioid epidemic in perspective. 

— Bristol-Myers Squibb is facing a nearly $20 million fine for wrongfully promoting its antipsychotic Abilify for off-label use in adults and children with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease before the FDA approved those indications. 

— A computer scientist at Microsoft crafted a wearable device that helps counteract the tremors associated with Parkinson’s Disease. The device, which was designed as part of the BBC’s Big Life Fix challenge, is currently being worn exclusively by a young graphic designer whose Parkinson’s diagnosis has a significant impact on her livelihood. Watch the video to learn more about the device and how it helps improve hand control.