Published August 9, 2016
Gil I. Wolfe, MD, professor and Irvin and Rosemary Smith Chair of neurology, is the co-director of an expert panel that has published the first international treatment recommendations for patients with myasthenia gravis (MG).
Published July 26 in Neurology, the “International Consensus Guidance for Management of Myasthenia Gravis” offers clinicians up-to-date recommendations for a multifaceted approach to caring for patients with MG, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that affects some 700,000 people around the world.
“The treatment guidance, we hope, will establish a common playing field when it comes to managing patients,” Wolfe says, pointing out that few physicians treat enough patients with MG to be comfortable with all available treatments.
“We also hope the statement will be helpful for neurologists and other physicians caring for patients in countries that do not have adequate resources to come up with a consensus recommendation.”
Patients will benefit by receiving a standard approach to their care modeled on the available evidence, Wolfe notes, adding that insufficient studies exist on which to base a formal practice parameter.
The 15 international panelists — chosen for their breadth of knowledge about MG and their experience treating the condition — developed guidance statements for seven treatment topics:
The panel also offers guidance on the many therapies used to treat MG that are not approved for such use by the Food and Drug Administration. “There remains no FDA-approved immunotherapy for MG,” Wolfe points out.
The work was supported by a grant from the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA).
An obvious choice to co-chair the consensus guidance panel, Wolfe is a leading authority on neuromuscular disorders, with a special focus on MG.
He was the clinical chair of one of the longest and largest randomized trials of the condition. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the recently concluded international trial explored whether thymectomy — a surgical procedure that Wolfe helped develop — benefits MG patients who don’t present with a chest tumor.
Currently, Wolfe serves as a site investigator on a $1.5 million NIH study looking into the use of the cancer medication rituximab in MG patients on prednisone.
In 2015, the MGFA honored Wolfe as Doctor of the Year for his research on MG and his commitment to better understanding the disorder. In addition to having served on the MGFA’s Medical Scientific Advisory Board, Wolfe is a past president.
In 2012, he co-organized the 12th International Conference on Myasthenia Gravis and Related Disorders, supported by the MGFA, the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the New York Academy of Sciences. The quadrennial conference attracts the most prominent researchers in the field.
Wolfe has authored or co-authored more than 100 research papers and 20 chapters on neuromuscular disorders.