Singapore Undiagnosed Disease Program: Genomic Analysis aids Diagnosis and Clinical Management

Arch Dis Child. 2021 Jan;106(1):31-37. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2020-319180. Epub 2020 Aug 20.


Objective: Use next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology to improve our diagnostic yield in patients with suspected genetic disorders in the Asian setting.

Design: A diagnostic study conducted between 2014 and 2019 (and ongoing) under the Singapore Undiagnosed Disease Program. Date of last analysis was 1 July 2019.

Setting: Inpatient and outpatient genetics service at two large academic centres in Singapore.

Patients: Inclusion criteria: patients suspected of genetic disorders, based on abnormal antenatal ultrasound, multiple congenital anomalies and developmental delay.

Exclusion criteria: patients with known genetic disorders, either after clinical assessment or investigations (such as karyotype or chromosomal microarray).

Interventions: Use of NGS technology-whole exome sequencing (WES) or whole genome sequencing (WGS).

Main outcome measures: (1) Diagnostic yield by sequencing type, (2) diagnostic yield by phenotypical categories, (3) reduction in time to diagnosis and (4) change in clinical outcomes and management.

Results: We demonstrate a 37.8% diagnostic yield for WES (n=172) and a 33.3% yield for WGS (n=24). The yield was higher when sequencing was conducted on trios (40.2%), as well as for certain phenotypes (neuromuscular, 54%, and skeletal dysplasia, 50%). In addition to aiding genetic counselling in 100% of the families, a positive result led to a change in treatment in 27% of patients.

Conclusion: Genomic sequencing is an effective method for diagnosing rare disease or previous 'undiagnosed' disease. The clinical utility of WES/WGS is seen in the shortened time to diagnosis and the discovery of novel variants. Additionally, reaching a diagnosis significantly impacts families and leads to alteration in management of these patients.

Keywords: genetics; syndrome.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / diagnosis
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / genetics*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / genetics*
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Singapore
  • Undiagnosed Diseases / diagnosis
  • Undiagnosed Diseases / genetics*
  • Young Adult