MDNN: AVATAR Therapy for Hallucinations, Smartphone Camera Diagnoses, FDA Approves Mepolizumab, and Links Between MS and Vaccine

Hi, I’m Matt Hoffman, and this is MD Magazine News Network - it’s clinical news for connected physicians.

A follow-up study has corroborated evidence from a pilot study supporting the safety and efficacy of AVATAR therapy, a novel method for reducing auditory hallucinations in patients with psychoses. The therapy empowers patients to talk with visual virtual representations of the voices they hear. AVATAR therapy has shown a mean reduction in patient Psychotic Symptom Rating Scale scores, and a high rate of patient reduction in auditory verbal hallucinations through 12 weeks of therapy. With further study, the therapy could become a meaningful clinical add-on to existing therapies for patients with schizophrenia, a quarter of which experience auditory hallucinations despite treatment.

High-quality photos from smartphones are reliable for diagnosing pediatric dermatology conditions, according to a recent study from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Results showed that 83% of the time, photograph-based diagnoses matched in-person diagnoses. With fewer than 300 board-certified physicians currently serving over 75 million US children, the teledermatology method could aid an often underrepresented field of care.

The FDA has approved mepolizumab as the first drug specifically designated for adults with eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis. The rare autoimmune disease, formerly known as Churg-Strauss syndromes, is characterized by asthma, high eosinophil levels, and small- to medium-sized blood vessel inflammation in patients, and is only prevalent in about 10 to 14 of every 1 million adults. Mepolizumab was previously approved as Nucala, an injection therapy for adolescents and adults with severe asthma with an eosinophilic phenotype.

There is no evidence linking vaccines to the onset of multiple sclerosis in patients, according to a review of more than 50 relevant MS studies. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that, while active yellow fever vaccine can causing multiple sclerosis relapse, vaccinations are generally safe from causing the neurological disease. In relevant cases, vaccines prevented conditions that increase the risk of relapse. However, several vaccines for conditions including H1N1, rabies, typhoid fever, and cholera have too few studies to rule out a possible association with multiple sclerosis onset.

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