Elizabeth Volkmann, MD, MS: Evaluating, Managing Systemic Sclerosis Associated Interstitial Lung Disease

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Elizabeth Volkmann, MD, MS, explains the current treatment options available for SSc-ILD and how to evaluate and manage this patient population.

In the second part of an interview with HCPLive Rheumatology, Elizabeth Volkmann, MD, MS, discusses her Congress of Clinical Rheumatology West presentation, “Systemic Sclerosis Associated Interstitial Lung Disease (SSc-ILD): How to Evaluate Subclinical, Clinical, & Progressive Disease for Best Outcome,” specifically the current treatment options available and how to evaluate and manage patients with SSc-ILD. Volkmann is the director of the UCLA Scleroderma Program and the founder and co-director of the UCLA Connective Tissue Disease-Related Interstitial Lung Disease (CTD-ILD) Program.

Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved therapies for SSc-ILD include nintedanib and tocilizumab. Additionally, recent studies have shown the effectiveness of rituximab for this patient population. Previous studies have also demonstrated the benefits of mycophenolate. These treatments have been proven to enhance outcomes and lung function in patients.

“Moreover, there's a treatment option called hematopoietic stem cell transplant, which is considered for specific SSc-ILD patients, particularly those in the early stages of the disease with diffuse skin involvement,” Volkmann explained. “This treatment can significantly improve lung health.”

Regarding recent advancements in SSc-ILD, there are several ongoing clinical trials, including both phase 2 and phase 3 trials, investigating novel therapies for this condition. Volkmann is hopeful there will be more approved treatments in the coming years.

“In managing SSc-ILD, it's essential to collaborate with other specialists because scleroderma affects multiple organ systems, including the heart, kidneys, and gastrointestinal (GI) tract,” Volkmann stated. “I view myself as part of a larger care team, and I work closely with pulmonologists to address ILD, gastroenterologists for GI symptoms, and cardiologists for heart-related concerns. My advice is to build a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers who have expertise in caring for these patients and work together to optimize their care."

This transcript was edited for clarity.

Dr. Volkmann is a consultant to Boehringer Ingelheim and Forbius.

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