Purpose: The NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) evaluates participants with disorders that have defied diagnosis, applying personalized clinical and genomic evaluations and innovative research. The clinical sites of the UDN are essential to advancing the UDN mission; this study assesses their contributions relative to standard clinical practices.
Methods: We analyzed retrospective data from four UDN clinical sites, from July 2015 to September 2019, for diagnoses, new disease gene discoveries and the underlying investigative methods.
Results: Of 791 evaluated individuals, 231 received 240 diagnoses and 17 new disease-gene associations were recognized. Straightforward diagnoses on UDN exome and genome sequencing occurred in 35% (84/240). We considered these tractable in standard clinical practice, although genome sequencing is not yet widely available clinically. The majority (156/240, 65%) required additional UDN-driven investigations, including 90 diagnoses that occurred after prior nondiagnostic exome sequencing and 45 diagnoses (19%) that were nongenetic. The UDN-driven investigations included complementary/supplementary phenotyping, innovative analyses of genomic variants, and collaborative science for functional assays and animal modeling.
Conclusion: Investigations driven by the clinical sites identified diagnostic and research paradigms that surpass standard diagnostic processes. The new diagnoses, disease gene discoveries, and delineation of novel disorders represent a model for genomic medicine and science.
Keywords: exome sequencing; genome sequencing; phenotyping; ultrarare diseases; undiagnosed diseases.