Bruce Cree, MD, PhD, MAS, Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology in the Department of Neurology at the University of California San Francisco, discusses autoimmune encephalitis and the rapid development within its treatment landscape.

Autoimmune encephalitis is a group of rare autoinflammatory disorders in which the immune system targets healthy neurons, leading to physical and mental health concerns. Symptoms vary widely between patients but can include a sudden decline in work or school performance, loss of the ability to speak, abnormal body movements or seizures, vision loss, weakness of the arms or legs, and sleep problems. Psychiatric manifestations can range from anxiety and mood changes to psychosis with hallucinations, delusions or catatonia. Importantly, these symptoms typically develop quickly (over weeks or a few months). 

As Dr. Cree describes, the diagnosis and treatment processes for autoimmune encephalitis are both complex. There is currently no therapy FDA approved for this group of disorders but is a rapidly emerging area of interest for researchers, with many abstracts presented on autoimmune encephalitis at the recent AAN 2022 meeting.

Dr. Cree also notes that due to the profile of this disorder, it is important for neurologists, psychiatrists, and t emergency care physicians to be aware of autoimmune encephalitis.

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