Background: Clinical exome sequencing typically achieves diagnostic yields of 30%-57.5% in individuals with monogenic rare diseases. Undiagnosed diseases programmes implement strategies to improve diagnostic outcomes for these individuals.
Aim: We share the lessons learnt from the first 3 years of the Undiagnosed Diseases Program-Victoria, an Australian programme embedded within a clinical genetics service in the state of Victoria with a focus on paediatric rare diseases.
Methods: We enrolled families who remained without a diagnosis after clinical genomic (panel, exome or genome) sequencing between 2016 and 2018. We used family-based exome sequencing (family ES), family-based genome sequencing (family GS), RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and high-resolution chromosomal microarray (CMA) with research-based analysis.
Results: In 150 families, we achieved a diagnosis or strong candidate in 64 (42.7%) (37 in known genes with a consistent phenotype, 3 in known genes with a novel phenotype and 24 in novel disease genes). Fifty-four diagnoses or strong candidates were made by family ES, six by family GS with RNA-seq, two by high-resolution CMA and two by data reanalysis.
Conclusion: We share our lessons learnt from the programme. Flexible implementation of multiple strategies allowed for scalability and response to the availability of new technologies. Broad implementation of family ES with research-based analysis showed promising yields post a negative clinical singleton ES. RNA-seq offered multiple benefits in family ES-negative populations. International data sharing strategies were critical in facilitating collaborations to establish novel disease-gene associations. Finally, the integrated approach of a multiskilled, multidisciplinary team was fundamental to having diverse perspectives and strategic decision-making.
Keywords: genetic techniques; genetic testing; genetics; genomics; medical; paediatrics.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.