Research

Exciting strides are being made to understand
myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia Gravis Research

Myasthenia gravis diagnosis and treatment have come a long way in 50 years. Technological advances have led to more timely and accurate diagnosis, and new and enhanced therapies have improved management of the disorder. Much knowledge has been gained about the structure and function of the neuromuscular junction, the fundamental aspects of the thymus gland and of autoimmunity, and the disorder itself. Despite these advances, however, there is still much to learn.

Rituximab in MG Study

A Phase II trial of Rituximab in Myasthenia Gravis is recruiting participants at various sites in the U.S. and Canada. The study aims to learn if rituximab will help patients take less prednisone to manage their MG or possibly be able to stop taking prednisone.

Disease Registries

Patient participation is a cornerstone of medical research. If you’d like to participate in studies related to autoimmune disease, or specifically to myasthenia gravis, you may want to consider:

  • The Autoimmune Disease Registry (ARNet) – enables broad-based research into autoimmune disease including myasthenia gravis, sponsored by the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association
  • MG Registry – enables myasthenia-specific research, sponsored by the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America

Research Funded by Conquer MG

Medical research resulting in a cure for MG is the ultimate goal of Conquer Myasthenia Gravis. One of Conquer MG’s most exciting and rewarding activities is sponsoring projects with this end in mind. Conquer MG works with its Medical Advisory Board to establish research initiatives to fund.

microscope-311859_1280Congratulations to the recipient of Conquer MG’s 2017 research grant: Kevin O’Connor, PhD, Yale University. Click here for a summary of Dr. O’Connor’s study, “Targeting the Pathogenic B Cells in Myasthenia Gravis”.

In 2016, Conquer MG awarded a research grant to Michael Demetriou, MD, PhD, University of California, Irvine, for his study, “Immunomodulatory Effects of N-glycosylation in  Myasthenia Gravis Patients.”

In 2015, Conquer MG awarded research grants for these pilot studies:

  • “Profiling of AChR-Specific B Cells in Myasthenia Gravis” by John Yi, Ph.D., Duke University
  • “Evaluation of IL-17A as a Therapeutic Target for Myasthenia Gravis” by Henry Kaminski, M.D., George Washington University.

In addition, a second-year grant was awarded to Betty Soliven, M.D., University of Chicago, for her study “Regulatory B Cells in Myasthenia Gravis.”

In 2014, Conquer MG awarded research grants for these pilot projects:

  • “Regulatory B Cells in Myasthenia Gravis,” a study by Betty Soliven, M.D., University of Chicago
  • “Monoclonal Antibody Treatment of Anti-MuSK Myasthenia,” a study by David P. Richman, M.D., University of California, Davis

These research projects were chosen for funding because they represent unique, novel ideas that may open significant new avenues of research on MG. They also represent areas where preliminary data are lacking.

Conquer Myasthenia Gravis funds research through the Mary B. Prokop research bequest, plus donations from individuals and corporations. To donate to research sponsored by Conquer MG, be sure to note “Research” on your donation check. Or click here to donate online; then email info@myastheniagravis.org to specify that your gift be used for research.

Other MG research

Research for the cause and cure of any disease is a multi-stage, long-term process. While Conquer MG has chosen to support small academic pilot studies, funds for other MG studies come from a variety of sources.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one of the Federal Government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), has primary responsibility for conducting and supporting research on myasthenia gravis. MG research also is being sponsored by organizations such as the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and by private companies.

Ongoing MG research projects include:

  • Testing different drugs, either alone or in combination with existing drug therapies, to see if they are effective in treating the disorder.
  • A study that seeks to understand the molecular basis of synaptic transmission in the nervous system.
  • A study of thymectomy in individuals who do not have a thymoma, to assess long-term benefit the surgery may have over medical therapy alone.
  • Examining the safety and efficacy of autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to treat refractory and severe myasthenia gravis.

Clinical Trials

A clinical trial is a research study that uses human volunteers to answer a specific health question. If you would like to participate in an MG clinical trial, you can learn which studies are recruiting by visiting www.clinicaltrials.gov. (Search on “myasthenia gravis.”) This website is a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). It offers up-to-date information for locating federally and privately supported clinical trials for a wide range of diseases and conditions.

 

Page last updated June 2016.

Reviewed by the MGF of Illinois Medical Advisory Board, November 2015.
Unless otherwise stated, the information provided here is of a general nature, composed by non-medical personnel. It is meant to be accurate and helpful advice for MG patients. It is not intended to be medical opinion, nor is it a substitute for personal professional medical care.