The Handoff: Your Week in Neurology News – 9/21/17

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.

— Despite a delay from Hurricane Irma, the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida is set to kick off a pivotal trial that will examine the effects of vagus nerve stimulation on functional outcomes in patients with stroke. The trial, which will include up to 120 participants, is intended to see whether the addition of VNS to traditional rehabilitation will help patients regain movement and use of their limbs despite neuronal damage from stroke. 

New research indicates that during the Flint, Michigan water crisis, where lead levels in drinking water spiked, residents experienced decreased fertility and an increase in fetal deaths. Exposure to lead is particularly damaging to developing brains and the overall nervous system, and is associated with lower intelligence, 

— A company called Second Sight is launching a clinical trial to test a brain implant designed to restore vision in people who are blind. The implant, which bypasses the eye and optic nerve, is a second generation of the company’s bionic eye product Argus II, which uses a camera and external processor to help restore some vision in patients with retinitis pigmentosa. 

— An NIH-supported mouse study suggests that targeting the protein neuroligin-3 may help to control the growth of high-grade gliomas, the most deadly form of brain cancer. 

— Results of another NIH mouse study suggest that 2 neutrophil-related proteins may play critical roles in protecting the brain from stroke-induced damage and could be used as treatments for intracerebral hemorrhage.

— CVS Caremark announced that it will begin limiting the amount and strength of opioid prescriptions it dispenses to patients as it moves to be more in line with recent CDC prescribing guidelines.