The Handoff: Your Week in Neurology News – 9/14/17

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.

— Sage Therapeutics’ highly-anticipated drug for super-refractory status epilepticus fell face first in a phase 3 trial, with a barely noticeable advantage over placebo. Critics warned that the investigational drug brexanolone was over-hyped, as earlier trials had no control arms and small patient pools; however, many are hoping for a better outcome in the drug’s upcoming phase 3 trial in postpartum depression. 

— Despite overwhelming evidence against the proposed vaccine-autism link, parents with a child with autism are less likely to vaccinate subsequent children and more likely to retrospectively report adverse reactions to vaccines. Researchers suggest that a better understanding of the link between perceived adverse reactions to vaccines and autism may help physicians better address concerns about vaccination. 

— Facing a paradigm shift in the way they treat patients, some physicians are pushing back on efforts to incorporate biomarker detection in the initial diagnostic approach for patients suspected of having Alzheimer’s disease. 

— The evidence pool is steadily growing for support of a strong connection between intestinal bacteria and multiple sclerosis. 

— An op-ed published in Neurology Today provides insights on the ethical disputes behind landmark patient-provider conflicts like the case of Charlie Gard. 

— A case of unusual migraine published in The New York Times Magazine reminds us of the importance of truly listening to patients. 

— Dwindling funding and unforeseen complications have severely slowed pipeline development of a Zika virus vaccine. 

— A treatment for infantile spasms is back in the spotlight over controversial pricing

— Two studies recently published in Nature highlight how “maternal immune activation” may increase the risk of autism in offspring. 

— A bevy of mobile apps available to supposedly help patients with multiple sclerosis better manage their disease may have ulterior motives.