The Handoff: Your Week in Neurology News – 7/20/17

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.

— Arizona state senator John McCain has been diagnosed with glioblastoma after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. The former presidential hopeful will likely undergo a combination of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. 

— FDA-approved GammaCore, a non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator for the treatment of episodic cluster headache, is now available

— Stress, not diet, likely cause behind gastrointestinal issues in patients with autism spectrum disorder, new research suggests. 

— Genetics company Pairnomix is partnering with Stemonix to develop a human induced pluripotent stem cell model of epilepsy. The model, which will include mature, functional neural cells, will have the ability to induce seizure-like electrical activity that can help to detect subtle pharmacological effects of anti-seizure medication. 

— Even low levels of exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can lead to severe and highly unpredictable neural deficits, according to an NIH-funding study. 

— Imaging has helped to identify a brain circuit that responds well to a certain type of psychotherapy used in patients with PTSD, while another study found that metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 may be a good treatment target in PTSD. 

— ResearchAgainstAlzheimer’s has released an updated drug development pipeline report for potential Alzheimer’s treatments. 

— Facility behind inaccurate lead tests may be in violation of federal law, according to a statement  from Alberto Gutierrez, PhD, Director, Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

— The Department of Justice announced the largest takedown of health care fraud in history, which included 295 health care providers, 120 of who were charged with opioid-related crimes. 

— Listen to the FDA’s Janet Woodcock, MD, discuss the criteria for biomarker qualification, and what factors influence the evidence required.