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Discover patient advocacy organizations that provide support and resources to the myasthenia gravis community.
Welcome to the first-ever interactive MG experience that allows you to bring history to life by adding your own diagnosis milestone. Explore the past and present of myasthenia gravis. Start with the most current developments and then work your way back to 1644 with the first recognized case of MG. Jump through the different eras with the bars on the left. Scroll now to make your mark by adding your diagnosis year to the Living History.
You’re invited to become a part of history by joining fellow MGers in adding your diagnosis year to the Living History. No history of MG is complete without input from the people who live with it every day. See what historical milestone happened close to your date and how many other MGers reported their diagnoses in that year.
Now see how many other MGers have added their diagnosis year and what historical milestone is close to your date.
As of today, there are multiple clinical trials currently underway for generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG).1
A group of 16 international experts releases new recommendations to help physicians treat people with MG, International Consensus Guidance for Management of Myasthenia Gravis: 2020 Update. This guidance is written by physicians for physicians, but you can share this link with your doctor.2
Stephen Garett, known in the hip hop community as Static Major, was admitted to the hospital after experiencing labored breathing and diagnosed with MG at the age of 33. After his death, his 2008 hit with Lil Wayne, “Lollipop” was released and went on to be 2008’s best-selling digital single.3
Known for his “Far East sound,” Horace Swaby, better known as Augustus Pablo, lived with MG and worked alongside many notable artists including Bob Marley.4
Connie Haines (birth name: Yvonne Marie Antoinette JaMais) was an American singer known for her up-tempo band songs who had MG and performed alongside the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Frank Sinatra.5
argenx released the first-ever MG documentary series, A Mystery to Me, aimed at increasing the public’s awareness and understanding of this rare disease. With thousands of MG community members, the debut was likely the largest virtual MG gathering in history.
argenx unveiled MG United to provide personalized resources aimed at helping you and your caregivers through your battle with MG. No matter where you are in your MG journey, MG United offers straightforward, reliable information about myasthenia gravis.
Netflix’s popular docuseries Chef’s Table features James Beard Award winner Sean Brock. The episode explores Chef Brock’s journey with myasthenia gravis along with his passion for Southern cuisine and authentic local ingredients.
Main character Lucious Lyon played by Terrence Howard in Fox’s hit TV show Empire is initially misdiagnosed with a neurological condition in season one. His correct diagnosis of MG comes at the close of the season as a major plot twist.
Greek shipping magnate and Jackie Kennedy’s second husband, Onassis was a very prominent 20th century figure. During the later years of his life, he was diagnosed with MG and experienced respiratory failure at the age of 69.6
This FDA approval comes years after the first MG treatment was approved in 1955, providing an additional treatment option for people living with MG.7,8
Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA) appoints a task force composed of 15 international experts to develop treatment guidance for people living with myasthenia gravis. This group published the first internationally accepted standard of care treatment guideline and recently released a new 2020 update.9
The first woman elected as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Mankiller advocated for healthcare and education for her people. She was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 1979.10
argenx was founded in 2008 by three colleagues, including current CEO Tim Van Hauwermeiren and CSO Hans de Haard with the goal of developing innovative potential new treatments for people living with severe autoimmune diseases, including gMG.
In season two, episode six of House, a myasthenia gravis diagnosis was confirmed when House connected a tumor in a patient’s neck (thymoma) to his low red blood cell count.
Airing for ten seasons, the popular show Law & Order: Criminal Intent included a character with myasthenia gravis in season five, episode eight.
A famous US wildlife sculptor, designer and painter with MG, Brewsaugh’s notable pieces are featured in private collections around the globe. His notable life-sized bald eagle was gifted to the White House and is now a part of the Smithsonian Museum.11,12
Appearing in nearly 100 films, including James Bond, Around the World in 80 Days and Pink Panther, Niven was a beloved actor, novelist and memoirist who lived with a neuromuscular disease believed to be MG.12
For Over 70 Years, Research and Advocacy Groups Have Been Supporting People Living With MG and Their Caregivers.
Myasthenia Gravis Holistic Society
Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of Illinois is now Conquer Myasthenia Gravis
Global Genes founded
EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases founded
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) founded
Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of Michigan (MG-MI) founded
Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of Illinois founded
An ice pack can help diagnose a patient who presents with symptoms of ocular, eye or eyelid related, MG without having to wait for a blood test. Temporary improvement in ptosis, a droopy eyelid, after using the ice pack for two to five minutes allows physicians to quickly rule out other neuromuscular diseases as the cause of symptoms.13
Targeted removal of antibodies, such as acetylcholine (ACh), at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) was discovered when A.J. Pinching, D.K. Peters, and John Newsom-Davis were able to show symptom improvement in three of their patients. Mary Walker had previously shown that the NMJ was the site of disease origin in 1934.14
While there is no cure for myasthenia gravis, the FDA approved the first drug to treat symptoms of MG in 1955. It would take more than 60 years before another therapy was approved in 2017.7,8
Beloved private eye on 77 Sunset Strip, Smith was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 1965. He was married to actress Ann-Margret; together they were a prominent couple on the Hollywood scene.15
Founding director of Britain’s National Theatre and acclaimed actor, Olivier is known for his roles in Shakespearean plays, as well as in other classics such as Wuthering Heights, and is believed to have lived with MG.16
The inspiration behind Christopher Robin in Winnie-the-Pooh books written by his father, A.A. Milne, Christopher had myasthenia gravis during the last years of his life.17
After removing a tumor found in a patient’s thymus resulted in a favorable outcome, Alfred Blalock established a connection between the thymus and myasthenia gravis.18 The thymus is an organ that’s a part of the immune system, and removing the thymus (thymectomy) was later considered as a treatment option.19
According to showbiz legend, the popular Disney character, Sleepy, was modeled after a friend of Walt Disney’s who had myasthenia gravis. Sleepy’s character is often seen struggling to stay awake and with droopy eyelids.12
Mary Walker connected the origin of MG to the neuromuscular junction after recognizing similarities in symptoms to plant poisoning. Through an experimental procedure, she observed temporary improvement in muscle function in one of her patients. Her discovery coincided with Sir Henry Dale and W. Feldberg presenting the first evidence that the antibody acetylcholine was released at the NMJ and impaired muscle contraction.14
In November of 1899, the Berlin Society of Psychiatry and Neurology dropped the word “pseudoparalytica” from the previously named “Myasthenia gravis pseudoparalytica.” This term was originally used to indicate a lack of structural changes in the body. Two years later, The Principles and Practice of Medicine was updated to include the current term, “myasthenia gravis.”18
In 1895, Friedrich Jolly became the first person to use the term “myasthenia gravis pseudoparalytica” to describe the condition of two teenage boys who displayed muscular weakness with periods of recovery. Wilhelm Heinrich Erb and Samuel Goldflam both documented earlier cases similar to Jolly’s in 1893 and 1879 and the name “Erb-Goldflam Symptom-Complex” was used for this new disease entity.18
Samuel Goldflam’s 1893 publication documented three cases that featured muscle weakness with periods of relapse and remission. Goldflam’s findings reinforced Wilhelm Heinrich Erb’s 1879 publication and are considered to be the first clear description of myasthenia gravis as a distinct disease.18
Wilhelm Heinrich Erb’s publication in 1879 documented three cases with drooping eyelids, difficulty chewing and swallowing and neck muscle weakness. Erb’s description of these symptoms was the first to suggest a new disease that had not yet been described.18
Samuel Wilks provided the first description of myasthenia gravis at Guy’s Hospital in London after treating a girl with fluctuating muscle weakness and no disease origin.18
Known for his famous stained-glass windows, Marie-Alain Couturier lived with myasthenia gravis and was also a French-Dominican friar and Catholic priest.20,21
Thomas Willis was the first to document and describe myasthenia gravis as a clinical entity in his book Anima Brutorum. It would take another 200 years before additional advancements occurred.18
Chief Opechankanough, who died in 1644, is considered the first American case of MG. He was unable to walk and is depicted as leading his troops to battle on a litter—a covered couch with poles for carrying—as well as having his attendants lift his eyelids. Notably, Chief Opechankanough was Pocahontas’ uncle.14
Now that you’ve seen the history of MG, don’t forget to mark the timeline where your MG journey began. Because you are part of MG History.
Now that you’ve seen the history of MG, do you remember what milestone happened around your diagnosis year? Check back to see if you’re right and if any additional MGers have added their date.
Take this quiz to see what myasthenia gravis-friendly activity you may want to try.
The first-ever documentary film series about myasthenia gravis gives a close, personal look into what it’s like to live with MG.
Read about Sean Brock’s difficult journey to find balance working as a professional chef while living with MG.
†Paid spokesperson of argenx
argenx, a global immunology company, created MG United to support people living with myasthenia gravis (MG) and those who care for them. By providing information on MG United, argenx aims to help improve the lives of people suffering from this autoimmune disease. MG United does not offer medical advice; always consult your healthcare team for personalized medical guidance.
The brands listed are the trademarks of their respective owners.
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