The Handoff: Your Week in Neurology News – 9/7/17

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.

— Topline results from the PARADIGMS trial show a clinically and statistically significant reduction in annualized relapse rate in children and adolescents with multiple sclerosis taking oral fingolimod compared with interferon beta-1a.

— Facing a future filled with artificial intelligence and machine learning, radiologists are becoming increasingly concerned about the future of their role in health care.

— In its third cycle, the NIH’s Autism Centers of Excellence program has awarded nearly $100 million to 9 research grants aimed at better understanding and developing interventions for autism spectrum disorder. 

— The FDA has granted breakthrough therapy designation for psychedelic drug MDMA for the treatment of PTSD. The first phase 3 trial, which will examine MDMA as adjunctive treatment to psychotherapy, will begin enrolling in the spring of 2018. 

— Progress on the decrease of deaths related to stroke has slowed, according to a report from the CDC. Blacks, Hispanics, and those living in the southern US face a particularly high risk of stroke, and both the CDC and AHA/ASA said more efforts need to be focused on increasing access to care in disadvantaged communities. 

—  Sarepta, whose reputation has been battered and bruised by its FDA controversy, has released promising muscle biopsy data from its phase 1/2 study of golodirsen in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy amendable to exon 53 skipping. 

— An investigative gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease is slowly gaining steam after data from a proof-of-concept study showed increased efficacy for higher doses of the therapy. 

— In non-neurology news, the NIH has awarded the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey clinical medical research award to John T. Schiller, PhD, and Douglas R. Lowy, MD, of the National Cancer Institute, for their significant role in the development of human papillomavirus vaccines.