Rare Disease

Advancing Understanding
of Rare Disease

Annually, up to 10 percent of the nearly 4 million babies born in the US are hospitalized in an intensive care unit due to an underlying rare genetic disease. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, some such disorders can lead to permanent disability or even death.

Many rare genetic diseases are never seen by most physicians, as they affect very few children worldwide. This creates challenges in recognizing the condition and knowing how to treat it.

At RCIGM, we want to provide accurate information when a rare disorder is diagnosed to enable families and their healthcare teams to make informed decisions about treatment. 

Knowledge Generation

  • We identify new diseases.
  • We study the normal disease progression of the rare diseases we diagnose.
  • We evaluate treatments for rare disease, including trying medicines not previously used in children, and participating in research with drug companies to evaluate the efficacy of potential new therapies.

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Key Facts

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Publications

Cold Spring Harb Mol Case Stud. 2022 Feb 25:mcs.a006204. doi: 10.1101/mcs.a006204. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

The start of 2022 is an inflection point in the development of diagnostics and treatments for rare genetic diseases in prenatal, pediatric, and adult individuals; the theme of this special issue. Here I briefly review recent developments in the latter two aspects of rare genetic disease diagnostics and treatments.

PMID:35217563 | DOI:10.1101/mcs.a006204

Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2022 Feb 21;18(1):15. doi: 10.1186/s13223-022-00655-5.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Activated phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) δ syndrome (APDS) is a rare form of primary immunodeficiency with 243 known cases reported in the literature. Known findings associated with the condition include recurrent sinusitis and bronchitis, bronchiectasis, immune cytopenias, mild developmental delay, splenomegaly, and lymphadenopathy. We report the case of a child with APDS accompanied by unique clinical features: nephromegaly and growth hormone deficiency with associated pituitary anatomic abnormality.

CASE PRESENTATION: The patient is a nine-year-old boy with a heterozygous de novo variant in phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase catalytic subunit δ (p.E1021K), previously reported in association with APDS. Our patient, who had no family history of immunodeficiency, exhibits classic findings of this syndrome but also has unique features that extend the phenotypic spectrum of this disorder. At 5 years of age, the patient showed marked growth deceleration and was demonstrated to have growth hormone (GH) deficiency with associated pituitary anatomic abnormality. He started GH therapy with an excellent response. He additionally has bilateral nephromegaly of unclear etiology, microscopic hematuria and proteinuria, asthma, and has developed left hip pain with arthrocentesis consistent with oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis. At age nine, the patient was referred to genetics and whole exome sequencing revealed APDS. Though there was initial concern that GH may increase risk for malignancy as GH signals through the PI3K pathway, he was allowed to continue treatment as the PI3K pathway was considered constitutively active at baseline.

CONCLUSIONS: Our patient’s unique presentation adds to the clinical information regarding APDS, demonstrates the utility of genetic testing and illustrates the importance of a multidisciplinary collaborative approach in managing this complex syndrome.

PMID:35189965 | DOI:10.1186/s13223-022-00655-5

Hum Mutat. 2022 Jan 13. doi: 10.1002/humu.24330. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

Iron-sulfur cluster proteins are involved in critical functions for gene expression regulation and mitochondrial bioenergetics including the oxidative phosphorylation system. The c.215G>A p.(Arg72Gln) variant in NFS1 has been previously reported to cause infantile mitochondrial complex II and III deficiency. We describe three additional unrelated patients with the same missense variant. Two infants with the same homozygous variant presented with hypotonia, weakness and lactic acidosis, and one patient with compound heterozygous p.(Arg72Gln) and p.(Arg412His) variants presented as a young adult with gastrointestinal symptoms and fatigue. Skeletal muscle biopsy from patients 1 and 3 showed abnormal mitochondrial morphology, and functional analyses demonstrated decreased activity in respiratory chain complex II and variably in complexes I and III. We found decreased mitochondrial and cytosolic aconitase activities but only mildly affected lipoylation of pyruvate dehydrogenase and 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase enzymes. Our studies expand the phenotypic spectrum and provide further evidence for the pathogenicity and functional sequelae of NFS1-related disorders with disturbances in both mitochondrial and cytosolic iron-sulfur cluster containing enzymes.

PMID:35026043 | DOI:10.1002/humu.24330

Genet Med. 2022 Jan 10:S1098-3600(21)05422-8. doi: 10.1016/j.gim.2021.12.003. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: Gabriele-de Vries syndrome (GADEVS) is a rare genetic disorder characterized by developmental delay and/or intellectual disability, hypotonia, feeding difficulties, and distinct facial features. To refine the phenotype and to better understand the molecular basis of the syndrome, we analyzed clinical data and performed genome-wide DNA methylation analysis of a series of individuals carrying a YY1 variant.

METHODS: Clinical data were collected for 13 individuals not yet reported through an international call for collaboration. DNA was collected for 11 of these individuals and 2 previously reported individuals in an attempt to delineate a specific DNA methylation signature in GADEVS.

RESULTS: Phenotype in most individuals overlapped with the previously described features. We described 1 individual with atypical phenotype, heterozygous for a missense variant in a domain usually not involved in individuals with YY1 pathogenic missense variations. We also described a specific peripheral blood DNA methylation profile associated with YY1 variants.

CONCLUSION: We reported a distinct DNA methylation episignature in GADEVS. We expanded the clinical profile of GADEVS to include thin/sparse hair and cryptorchidism. We also highlighted the utility of DNA methylation episignature analysis for classification of variants of unknown clinical significance.

PMID:35027293 | DOI:10.1016/j.gim.2021.12.003

HGG Adv. 2021 Oct 14;2(4):100049. doi: 10.1016/j.xhgg.2021.100049. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

ABSTRACT

Xia-Gibbs syndrome (XGS; MIM: 615829) is a phenotypically heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD) caused by newly arising mutations in the AT-Hook DNA-Binding Motif-Containing 1 (AHDC1) gene that are predicted to lead to truncated AHDC1 protein synthesis. More than 270 individuals have been diagnosed with XGS worldwide. Despite the absence of an independent assay for AHDC1 protein function to corroborate potential functional consequences of rare variant genetic findings, there are also reports of individuals with XGS-like trait manifestations who have de novo missense AHDC1 mutations and who have been provided a molecular diagnosis of the disorder. To investigate a potential contribution of missense mutations to XGS, we mapped the missense mutations from 10 such individuals to the AHDC1 conserved protein domain structure and detailed the observed phenotypes. Five newly identified individuals were ascertained from a local XGS Registry, and an additional five were taken from external reports or databases, including one publication. Where clinical data were available, individuals with missense mutations all displayed phenotypes consistent with those observed in individuals with AHDC1 truncating mutations, including delayed motor milestones, intellectual disability (ID), hypotonia, and speech delay. A subset of the 10 reported missense mutations cluster in two regions of the AHDC1 protein with known conserved domains, likely representing functional motifs. Variants outside the clustered regions score lower for computational prediction of their likely damaging effects. Overall, de novo missense variants in AHDC1 are likely diagnostic of XGS when in silico analysis of their position relative to conserved regions is considered together with disease trait manifestations.

PMID:34950897 | PMC:PMC8694554 | DOI:10.1016/j.xhgg.2021.100049

Nat Chem Biol. 2021 Dec 20. doi: 10.1038/s41589-021-00915-2. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

Glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4), as the only enzyme in mammals capable of reducing esterified phospholipid hydroperoxides within a cellular context, protects cells from ferroptosis. We identified a homozygous point mutation in the GPX4 gene, resulting in an R152H coding mutation, in three patients with Sedaghatian-type spondylometaphyseal dysplasia. Using structure-based analyses and cell models, including patient fibroblasts, of this variant, we found that the missense variant destabilized a critical loop, which disrupted the active site and caused a substantial loss of enzymatic function. We also found that the R152H variant of GPX4 is less susceptible to degradation, revealing the degradation mechanism of the GPX4 protein. Proof-of-concept therapeutic treatments, which overcome the impaired R152H GPX4 activity, including selenium supplementation, selective antioxidants and a deuterated polyunsaturated fatty acid were identified. In addition to revealing a general approach to investigating rare genetic diseases, we demonstrate the biochemical foundations of therapeutic strategies targeting GPX4.

PMID:34931062 | DOI:10.1038/s41589-021-00915-2

Knowledge Generation

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Read more about this groundbreaking work.

Robert Wechler-Reva

PHD, Neuro-Oncology Program Director

Noted scientist Robert Wechsler-Reya, PhD, is also a professor and researcher at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) where he is focused on investigating the genes and nervous system signaling pathways that contribute to medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children.

News Features

October 22, 2020

Variety.com

Inside Our Child’s Battle With Mitochondrial Disease

“Despite a beautiful pregnancy and delivery with every prenatal screening and precaution taken, Evan was born with mitochondrial disease.” Lindzi Scharf shares a … Read More

October 14, 2020

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Praesent lobortis, est eget hendrerit rutrum, … Read More

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