The LORIS MyeliNeuroGene rare disease database for natural history studies and clinical trial readiness

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2021 Jul 23;16(1):328. doi: 10.1186/s13023-021-01953-8.


Background: Rare diseases are estimated to affect 150-350 million people worldwide. With advances in next generation sequencing, the number of known disease-causing genes has increased significantly, opening the door for therapy development. Rare disease research has therefore pivoted from gene discovery to the exploration of potential therapies. With impending clinical trials on the horizon, researchers are in urgent need of natural history studies to help them identify surrogate markers, validate outcome measures, define historical control patients, and design therapeutic trials.

Results: We customized a browser-accessible multi-modal (e.g. genetics, imaging, behavioral, patient-determined outcomes) database to increase cohort sizes, identify surrogate markers, and foster international collaborations. Ninety data entry forms were developed including family, perinatal, developmental history, clinical examinations, diagnostic investigations, neurological evaluations (i.e. spasticity, dystonia, ataxia, etc.), disability measures, parental stress, and quality of life. A customizable clinical letter generator was created to assist in continuity of patient care.

Conclusions: Small cohorts and underpowered studies are a major challenge for rare disease research. This online, rare disease database will be accessible from all over the world, making it easier to share and disseminate data. We have outlined the methodology to become Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations Part 11 Compliant, which is a requirement to use electronic records as historical controls in clinical trials in the United States. Food and Drug Administration compliant databases will be life-changing for patients and families when historical control data is used for emerging clinical trials. Future work will leverage these tools to delineate the natural history of several rare diseases and we are confident that this database will be used on a larger scale to improve care for patients affected with rare diseases.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Clinical trials; Databases; Information management systems; Leukodystrophy; Natural history; Outcome measures; Rare diseases; Registry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parents
  • Pregnancy
  • Quality of Life*
  • Rare Diseases* / genetics
  • United States