Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases

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ISSN / EISSN : 1750-1172 / 1750-1172
Current Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media LLC (10.1186)
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Total articles ≅ 2,733
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, Lewis J. Fermaglich, Janet Maynard
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 16, pp 1-10; doi:10.1186/s13023-021-01901-6

Background Orphan drug designations are a useful proxy to investigate trends in rare disease drug development. Drug developers must receive a designation before they are eligible for the economic incentives of the Orphan Drug Act in the United States. We created a database of all orphan drugs designated between 1983 and 2019 that included numerous drug characteristics, including therapeutic area. In addition, we constructed a “broad disease” categorization of designations as an alternative to therapeutic area, based on disease etiology and age of onset rather than organ system. By looking at the pattern of orphan drug designations over the past four decades, this analysis studied the impact of the evolving rare disease drug development landscape and considers the future of rare disease therapies over the coming decades. Results Between 1983 and 2019, a total of 5099 drugs and biologics received orphan drug designation. Designations more than doubled between the 1980s and 1990s, almost doubled between the 1990s and 2000s, and almost tripled in number between the 2000s and 2010s. The top three therapeutic areas represented in the orphan drug designations were: oncology (1910, 37%), neurology (674, 13%), and infectious diseases (436, 9%). The broad disease categorization found that the proportion of designations for pediatric-onset diseases has increased in the most recent decade to 27%. Conclusions Analysis of the last four decades of orphan drug designation indicates seismic shifts have occurred in the rare disease drug development space. The number of designations granted more than quadrupled between the 1990s and 2010s. While these substantial increases led to growth in the absolute number of designations within all therapeutic areas (bar one) and broad disease categories, the relative proportions have seen considerable change over time. In the most recent decade, there have been notable increases in the proportion of drugs in oncology, pediatric-onset diseases, and neurologic disorders. The dramatic rise in overall orphan designations over the past four decades suggests we may continue to see an upward trajectory in designations leading to an increased number of approvals for drugs and biologics designed specifically for diagnosing, preventing, and treating rare diseases in the coming decades.
Jennifer M. Bain, Adel Ardalan, Sylvie Goldman
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 16, pp 1-7; doi:10.1186/s13023-021-01885-3

Diagnosis and management of children with rare neurodevelopmental disorders (RNDDs) are complex. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink the research activities critical to improve our understanding and treatment of RNDDs, such as creating large international registries and developing natural history studies. In this communication, we reflect on our latest effort in conducting research remotely while providing support, education and feedback to families affected by a specific RNDD. Specifically, we advocate for a deliberate paradigm shift towards virtual family meetings as ecological platforms to enroll and assess individuals with rare disorders. Herein, we demonstrate that such a shift is crucial to substantially increasing geographical and age range coverage, which are essential for capturing the phenotypic variations in RNDDs. Finally, we call on the community to invest in building integrated technological platforms necessary for effective remote research activities, through standardization, collaboration and training.
, Jonathan Stokes, Anthony Aiudi, Iyar Mazar, Sarah Ollis, Emily Love, Alan Shields
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 16, pp 1-13; doi:10.1186/s13023-021-01897-z

Background Barth Syndrome (BTHS) is a rare genetic disorder that presents as a complex of debilitating symptoms and reduced life expectancy. Well-developed, BTHS-specific assessments measuring primary signs and symptoms of BTHS are not currently available, making it difficult to evaluate treatment effects in BTHS clinical studies. The objective of this research was to develop symptom-focused patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures for use in clinical studies with adolescents and adults with BTHS. Methods Concept elicitation interviews (CEIs) with pediatric (n = 18, age < 16 years) and adult (n = 15, age ≥ 16 years) individuals with BTHS and/or their caregivers were conducted to identify signs and symptoms relevant to BTHS and important to individuals with the condition. Based on CEI results, questionnaire construction activities were conducted to create unique adolescent and adult versions of the Barth Syndrome-Symptom Assessment (BTHS-SA). The questionnaires were evaluated in cognitive debriefing interviews (CDIs) with adolescents (n = 12; age 12- < 16 years) and adults (n = 12; age ≥ 16 years) with BTHS to assess relevance and readability of the tools. Results During the CEIs, a total of 48 and 40 signs and symptoms were reported by the pediatric and adult groups, respectively; 31 were reported by both age groups. Fatigue/tiredness and muscle weakness were the symptoms most frequently reported by both pediatric and adult patients with BTHS as important to improve with an effective treatment. The CEI results informed construction of a nine-item version of the BTHS-SA for adolescents and an eight-item version for adults. Developed for daily administration, each version asks respondents to rate symptom severity “at its worst” over the 24 h prior to administration. CDIs with both adolescents and adults with BTHS demonstrated that each BTHS-SA version was reflective of the disease experience and that respondents could interpret the questionnaire as intended and provide responses that accurately reflected their symptom experience. Conclusions The BTHS-SA adolescent and adult versions are content-valid PRO measures that can be used to evaluate severity of disease-specific symptoms in future clinical trials. Given the lack of available and well-developed assessments in this underserved therapeutic area, these tools fulfill a need for clinical researchers developing treatments for individuals with BTHS.
Xiaoshu Cai, Georgi Z. Genchev, Ping He, Hui Lu, Guangjun Yu
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 16, pp 1-11; doi:10.1186/s13023-021-01830-4

Background Rare diseases are ailments which impose a heavy burden on individual patients and global society as a whole. The rare disease management landscape is not a smooth one—a rare disease is quite often hard to diagnose, treat, and investigate. In China, the country’s rapid economic rise and development has brought an increased focus on rare diseases. At present, there is a growing focus placed on the importance and public health priority of rare diseases and on improving awareness, definitions, and treatments. Methods In this work we utilized clinical data from the Shanghai HIE System to characterize the status of 33 rare diseases with effective treatment in Shanghai for the time period of 2013–2016. Results and conclusion First, we describe the total number of patients, year-to-year change in new patients with diagnosis in one of the target diseases and the distribution of gender and age for the top six (by patient number) diseases of the set of 33 rare diseases. Second, we describe the hospitalization burden in terms of in-hospital ratio, length of stay, and medical expenses during hospitalization. Finally, rare disease period prevalence is calculated for the rare diseases set.
Yu-Liang Jiang, Xiao-Dong Xu, Bai-Rong Li, En-Da Yu, , Hong Liu
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 16, pp 1-6; doi:10.1186/s13023-021-01900-7

Objective To report Peutz–Jeghers syndrome (PJS) cases with non-definitive clues in the family or personal history and finally diagnosed through pathological examination and STK11 gene mutation test. Clinical presentation and intervention PJS was suspected in 3 families with tortuous medical courses. Two of them had relatives departed due to polyposis or colon cancer without pathological results, and the other one had been diagnosed as hyperplastic polyposis before. Diagnosis of PJS was confirmed by endoscopy and repeated pathological examinations, and the STK11 mutation test finally confirmed the diagnosis at genetic level, during which 3 novel mutation were detected (536C > A, 373_374insA, 454_455insGGAGAAGCGTTTCCCAGTGTGCC). Conclusion Early diagnosis of PJS is important and may be based on a family history with selective features among family members, and the pathological information is the key. The novel mutations also expand the STK11 variant spectrum.
Jiangyuan Zhou, Kaiying Yang, Siyuan Chen,
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 16, pp 1-9; doi:10.1186/s13023-021-01893-3

Background Kaposiform lymphangiomatosis (KLA), which is a new subtype of generalized lymphatic anomaly, is a rare disease with a poor prognosis. Currently, there is no standard treatment due to the poor understanding of KLA. Sirolimus, which is an inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin, has been shown to have promising potential in the treatment of complicated vascular anomalies. The aim of this study was to introduce the use of sirolimus for the treatment of KLA and to highlight the challenges of managing this refractory disease. Results We reported seven patients with KLA who received sirolimus therapy in our center. Combined with previously reported cases, 58.3% achieved a partial response, 25.0% had stable disease, and 16.7% experienced disease progression. No severe sirolimus-related adverse events occurred during treatment. Conclusions This study suggests that sirolimus is currently an option for the treatment of KLA, and it is hoped that more specific therapies will be developed in the future. Rapid advances in basic science and clinical practice may facilitate the development of important new treatments for KLA.
Ying Zhu, Ruyi Wang, Yun Cheng, Yang Han, Tengyan Li, ,
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 16, pp 1-6; doi:10.1186/s13023-021-01888-0

Background To investigate the genetic contribution of copy number variations (CNVs) in Wingless-type MMTV integration site family, member 4 (WNT4), in a Chinese population with Müllerian anomalies (MA), copy number analysis of WNT4 by Multiplex ligation‐dependent probe amplification (MLPA) was performed on 248 female patients. Some studies have shown that heterozygous missense mutation of WNT4 can lead to MA. However, few studies on the relationship between WNT4 CNVs and MA have been performed. Results Among the 248 Chinese women affected by MA in this study, heterozygous deletion of WNT4 was detected in a single patient. Conclusions MLPA identified one heterozygous deletion in WNT4 in a single female patient among 248 Chinese women affected by MA. This study firstly reports CNVs of WNT4 in a large sample of MA patients from the Chinese population, which suggests that CNVs of WNT4 cannot be excluded in the occurrence of MA. This provides a genetic basis for precise treatment in the future.
Yong Shao, Siyu Chen, Huan Li, Qin Tang, Di Xu
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 16, pp 1-13; doi:10.1186/s13023-021-01887-1

Background ICP pregnant women have a unique profile of serum bile acid metabolism, thus the early and accurate identification of ICP patients is beneficial to early appropriate treatment and improvement of pregnancy outcomes. In this study, ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) was used to analyze the 15 types of serum bile acid profiles among patients with ICP in third trimester, patients with cholelithiasis, and patients with hepatitis B virus. The ICP diagnostic model established by partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) was used to screen the differential bile acids for clinical subtypes of ICP. 144 cases of ICP patients were involved in this study, and divided into four subgroups according to serum level of TBA, DBIL, and ALT. Results (1) The differential serum bile acid profiles of ICP group and normal pregnant women were DCA, TDCA, TCA, GDCA and GLCA. (2) The differential serum bile acid profiles of the ICP1 group (ICP with jaundice) and normal pregnant women were TCDCA, TCA, GCA, GCDCA, TUDCA and GUDCA. (3) The differential serum bile acid profiles of the ICP3 group (Hyperchoicemia of pregnancy) and normal pregnant group was GUDCA, LCA, GLCA, UDCA, TUDCA, CDCA, and TLCA (P < 0.05). (4) The differential serum bile acid profiles of ICP4 group (idiopathic aminotransferase abnormality during pregnancy) and normal pregnant group was UDCA, GUDCA, TUDCA, GCA and GLCA (P < 0.05). (5) The occurrence of meconium-stained amniotic fluid, premature delivery and cesarean section in ICP1 group was significantly higher than normal group, ICP2 group, ICP3 group, and ICP4 group (P < 0.05); The occurrence of meconium-stained amniotic fluid, premature delivery and cesarean section in ICP2 group, ICP3 group, and ICP4 group was significantly higher than normal group (P < 0.05), but no difference was found among ICP2 group, ICP3 group, and ICP4 group (P > 0.05). Conclusion Maternal serum bile acid profiles are useful to differentiate the four subtypes of ICP. ICP with jaundice could be an important predictor of adverse pregnancy outcomes of ICP.
Andrea Sodi, Sandro Banfi, , Michele Della Corte, Ilaria Passerini, Elisabetta Pelo, Settimio Rossi, Francesca Simonelli, Italian IRD Working Group
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 16, pp 1-11; doi:10.1186/s13023-021-01868-4

Background This research aimed to establish recommendations on the clinical and genetic characteristics necessary to confirm patient eligibility for gene supplementation with voretigene neparvovec. Methods An expert steering committee comprising an interdisciplinary panel of Italian experts in the three fields of medical specialisation involved in the management of RPE65-associated inherited retinal disease (IRD) (medical retina, genetics, vitreoretinal surgery) proposed clinical questions necessary to determine the correct identification of patients with the disease, determine the fundamental clinical and genetics tests to reach the correct diagnosis and to evaluate the urgency to treat patients eligible to receive treatment with voretigene neparvovec. Supported by an extensive review of the literature, a series of statements were developed and refined to prepare precisely constructed questionnaires that were circulated among an external panel of experts comprising ophthalmologists (retina specialists, vitreoretinal surgeons) and geneticists with extensive experience in IRDs in Italy in a two-round Delphi process. Results The categories addressed in the questionnaires included clinical manifestations of RPE65-related IRD, IRD screening and diagnosis, gene testing and genotyping, ocular gene therapy for IRDs, patient eligibility and prioritisation and surgical issues. Response rates by the survey participants were over 90% for the majority of items in both Delphi rounds. The steering committee developed the key consensus recommendations on each category that came from the two Delphi rounds into a simple and linear diagnostic algorithm designed to illustrate the patient pathway leading from the patient’s referral centre to the retinal specialist centre. Conclusions Consensus guidelines were developed to guide paediatricians and general ophthalmologists to arrive at the correct diagnosis of RPE65-associated IRD and make informed clinical decisions regarding eligibility for a gene therapy approach to RPE65-associated IRD. The guidelines aim to ensure the best outcome for the patient, based on expert opinion, the published literature, and practical experience in the field of IRDs.
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, Volume 16, pp 1-14; doi:10.1186/s13023-021-01884-4

Background Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis is a rare, heterogeneous group of liver disorders of autosomal recessive inheritance, characterised by an early onset of cholestasis with pruritus and malabsorption, which rapidly progresses, eventually culminating in liver failure. For children and their parents, PFIC is an extremely distressing disease. Significant pruritus can lead to severe cutaneous mutilation and may affect many activities of daily living through loss of sleep, irritability, poor attention, and impaired school performance. Methods Databases including MEDLINE and Embase were searched for publications on PFIC prevalence, incidence or natural history, and the economic burden or health-related quality of life of patients with PFIC. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines were followed. Results Three systematic reviews and twenty-two studies were eligible for inclusion for the epidemiology of PFIC including a total of 2603 patients. Study periods ranged from 3 to 33 years. Local population prevalence of PFIC was reported in three studies, ranging from 9.0 to 12.0% of children admitted with cholestasis, acute liver failure, or splenomegaly. The most detailed data come from the NAPPED study where native liver survival of >15 years is predicted in PFIC2 patients with a serum bile acid concentration below 102 µmol/L following bile diversion surgery. Burden of disease was mainly reported through health-related quality of life (HRQL), rates of surgery and survival. Rates of biliary diversion and liver transplant varied widely depending on study period, sample size and PFIC type, with many patients have multiple surgeries and progressing to liver transplant. This renders data unsuitable for comparison. Conclusion Using robust and transparent methods, this systematic review summarises our current knowledge of PFIC. The epidemiological overview is highly mixed and dependent on presentation and PFIC subtype. Only two studies reported HRQL and mortality results were variable across different subtypes. Lack of data and extensive heterogeneity severely limit understanding across this disease area, particularly variation around and within subtypes.
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