Mucopolysaccharidosis VI (MPS VI) is an autosomal recessive progressive multiorgan disorder due to mutation in the gene encoding the enzyme Arylsulfatase B (ARSB). Dysfunctional ARSB causes lysosomal accumulation of glycosaminoglycans (GAG). Currently, enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) is preferred to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (SCT) due to the treatment-related risks of the latter. However, ERT constitutes an expensive life-long treatment. Increased experience and safety of SCT-procedures in recent years suggest that SCT should be further explored as a treatment option.
This is the first report on haploidentical SCT in patients with MPS VI. The primary objective was to assess the treatment safety and clinical and biochemical outcome.
Patients and methods
Two siblings diagnosed with MPS VI at 10 months of age and at birth with genotype p.C192R, reported as mild to intermediate phenotype, underwent unrelated umbilical cord blood transplantation pre-symptomatic. Due to graft failure, both patients were urgently re-transplantated with haploidentical SCT with the father as donor. Continuous clinical and biochemical status was monitored and concluded 3.8 and 4.6 years after the haploidentical SCT.
Haploidentical SCT resulted in prompt and sustained engraftment. Complete donor chimerism was achieved in both patients, apart from mixed B cells chimerism in patient 2. ARSB activity in leukocytes post transplant increased from 0.0 to 19.0 μkat/kg protein (patient 1) and from 3.6 to 17.9 μkat/kg protein (patient 2) (ref. 17–40). Total urinary GAG normalized in both patients, although patient 2’s values slightly exceed normal range since 6 months. However, dermatan sulfaturia was substantially normalized since 16 months and 12 months post-SCT, respectively. Height was -1.85 SD and -1.27 SD at follow-up. Patient 1 had impaired visual acuity and discrete hepatomegaly. Patient 2 had elevated intraocular pressure and X-ray revealed steep acetabular angles and slightly flattened lumbar vertebrae.
This study demonstrates that young children with MPS VI tolerate haploidentical SCT. Normalization of enzyme production and dermatan sulfaturia indicates correction of the inborn error of metabolism and coincide with no obvious symptoms of progressive MPS VI up to 4.6 years post-SCT.
Mucopolysaccharidosis VI; Haploidentical stem cell transplantation; Clinical outcome
Glanders is a highly contagious and often fatal zoonotic disease, primarily of solipds. In the developed world, glanders has been eradicated. However, prior use of B. mallei as a biological weapon and its high mortality in inhalation animal studies has affirmed B. mallei as a biodefense concern. This threat requires the development of new glanders medical countermeasures (MCMs), as there is a lack of an effective vaccine and lengthy courses of multiple antibiotics needed to eradicate B. mallei. Here, we present a literature review of human glanders in which we discuss the clinical epidemiology and risk factors, potential routes of exposure, symptoms, the incubation period, and specific diagnostics. This review focuses on pulmonary glanders, as this is the most likely outcome of a biological weapons attack. Additionally, we outline current treatment regimens and propose a clinical definition of human pulmonary glanders infection.
Burkholderia; Mallei; Aerosol; Biodefense; Animal models; Transmission; Infectious routes; Laboratory acquired infection
Several examples have always illustrated how access to large numbers of biospecimens and associated data plays a pivotal role in the identification of disease genes and the development of pharmaceuticals. Hence, allowing researchers to access to significant numbers of quality samples and data, genetic biobanks are a powerful tool in basic, translational and clinical research into rare diseases. Recently demand for well-annotated and properly-preserved specimens is growing at a high rate, and is expected to grow for years to come. The best effective solution to this issue is to enhance the potentialities of well-managed biobanks by building a network.
Here we report a 5-year experience of the Telethon Network of Genetic Biobanks (TNGB), a non-profit association of Italian repositories created in 2008 to form a virtually unique catalogue of biospecimens and associated data, which presently lists more than 750 rare genetic defects. The process of TNGB harmonisation has been mainly achieved through the adoption of a unique, centrally coordinated, IT infrastructure, which has enabled (i) standardisation of all the TNGB procedures and activities; (ii) creation of an updated TNGB online catalogue, based on minimal data set and controlled terminologies; (iii) sample access policy managed via a shared request control panel at web portal. TNGB has been engaged in disseminating information on its services into both scientific/biomedical - national and international - contexts, as well as associations of patients and families. Indeed, during the last 5-years national and international scientists extensively used the TNGB with different purposes resulting in more than 250 scientific publications. In addition, since its inception the TNGB is an associated member of the Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure and recently joined the EuroBioBank network. Moreover, the involvement of patients and families, leading to the formalization of various agreements between TNGB and Patients’ Associations, has demonstrated how promoting Biobank services can be instrumental in gaining a critical mass of samples essential for research, as well as, raising awareness, trust and interest of the general public in Biobanks. This article focuses on some fundamental aspects of networking and demonstrates how the translational research benefits from a sustained infrastructure.
Biobanking; Networking; Biological resources centre; IT infrastructure; Biological material; Biospecimens; Cryopreservation; Rare diseases; Patients’ associations
Biliary atresia (BA) is a rare disease of unknown etiology and unpredictable outcome, even when there has been timely diagnosis and exemplary surgery. It has been the commonest indication for liver transplantation during childhood for the past 20 years. Hence much clinical and basic research has been directed at elucidating the origin and pathology of BA. This review summarizes the current clinical variations of BA in humans, its occasional appearance in animals and its various manifestations in the laboratory as an experimental model.
Biliary atresia; Neonatal cholestasis; Animal models; Etiology; Neonatal immunology
Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) is the most common autosomal dominant disorder, with an incidence of 1 in 2,500-3,300 live births. NF1 is associated with significant morbidity and mortality because of complications, especially malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs), which mainly develop during adulthood. We evaluated our experience with management of NF1 with MPNSTs by standard chemotherapy with anthracycline and/or ifosfamide in terms of time to treatment failure and overall survival.
We performed a retrospective review of consecutive patients with NF1 and a diagnosis of MPNSTs between 1993 and 2003 in our referral center for NF1. Prognostic factors were evaluated by univariate analysis.
We evaluated data for 21 patients with grade 1 (n=1), grade 2 (n=8) and grade 3 (n=12) MPNST; 16 presented localized disease and underwent surgery: margins for 6 were tumor-free (including 3 patients with amputation), 2 showed microscopic residual disease and 8 showed macroscopic residual disease. All patients received chemotherapy and 9 radiotherapy. Median time to treatment failure and overall survival were 7.8 and 17 months, respectively. Two patients were still alive at 138 and 167 months. We found no significant relationship between type of chemotherapy and time to treatment failure or overall survival.
MPNSTs are highly aggressive in NF1. Conventional chemotherapy does not seem to reduce mortality, and its role must be questioned. Recent advances in the molecular biology of MPNSTs may provide new prognostic factors and targeted therapies.
Neurofibromatosis 1; Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor; Soft tissue sarcoma; Chemotherapy
To elucidate the genetic basis of a novel neurodegenerative disorder in an Old Order Amish pedigree by combining homozygosity mapping with exome sequencing.
Methods and results
We identified four individuals with an autosomal recessive condition affecting the central nervous system (CNS). Neuroimaging studies identified progressive global CNS tissue loss presenting early in life, associated with microcephaly, seizures, and psychomotor retardation; based on this, we named the condition Autosomal Recessive Cerebral Atrophy (ARCA). Using two unbiased genetic approaches, homozygosity mapping and exome sequencing, we narrowed the candidate region to chromosome 11q and identified the c.995C > T (p.Thr332Met) mutation in the TMPRSS4 gene. Sanger sequencing of additional relatives confirmed that the c.995C > T genotype segregates with the ARCA phenotype. Residue Thr332 is conserved across species and among various ethnic groups. The mutation is predicted to be deleterious, most likely due to a protein structure alteration as demonstrated with protein modelling.
This novel disease is the first to demonstrate a neurological role for a transmembrane serine proteases family member. This study demonstrates a proof-of-concept whereby combining exome sequencing with homozygosity mapping can find the genetic cause of a rare disease and acquire better understanding of a poorly described protein in human development.
Autosomal recessive cerebral atrophy (ARCA) syndrome; Neurodegeneration; Trypsin-like serine protease; Homozygosity; Microarray; Exome sequencing; Autosomal recessive inheritance; Old Order Amish
Attention for Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) is growing, but evidence for orphan drugs is argued to be limited and inferior. This study systematically reviews the available evidence on clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and budget impact for orphan drugs.
A systematic review was performed in PubMed, Embase, NHS EED and HTA databases for 11 inpatient orphan drugs listed on the Dutch policy rule on orphan drugs. For included studies, we determined the type of study and various study characteristics.
A total of 338 studies met all inclusion criteria. Almost all studies (96%) focused on clinical effectiveness of the drug. Of these studies, most studies were case studies (41%) or observational studies (39%). However, for all orphan diseases at least one experimental or quasi-experimental study was found, and a randomized clinical trial was available for 60% of the orphan drugs. Eight studies described the cost-effectiveness of an orphan drug; an equal number described an orphan drug’s budget impact.
Despite the often heard claim that RCTs are not feasible for orphan drugs, we found that an RCT was available in 60% of orphan drugs investigated. Cost-effectiveness and budget impact analyses for orphan drugs are seldom published.
Rare diseases; Orphan drugs; Evidence based medicine; Clinical effectiveness; Cost-effectiveness; Budget impact
Ataxia with oculomotor apraxia defines a group of genetically distinct recessive ataxias including ataxia-telangectasia (A-T, ATM gene), ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 1 (AOA1, APTX gene) and type 2 (AOA2, SETX gene). Although, a few unique clinical features differentiate each of these forms, the patients also share common clinical signs, such as the presence of cerebellar atrophy, sensorimotor axonal neuropathy, and elevated alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) serum level.
Materials and methods
We selected 22 Italian patients from 21 families, presenting progressive cerebellar ataxia, axonal neuropathy, and elevated serum AFP. We screened the coding regions of ATM, APTX and SETX genes for point mutations by direct sequencing or DHPLC, and searched genomic rearrangements in SETX by MLPA analysis. In selected cases, quantification of ATM and senataxin proteins was performed by Western blot. Clinical, neurophysiological, and neuroimaging data were collected.
Thirteen patients (12 families) carried SETX mutations (AOA2, 57%), two were mutated in ATM (A-T), and three in APTX (AOA1). In three remaining patients, we could not find pathogenic mutations, and in one case we found, in homozygosis, the SETX p.K992R polymorphism (population frequency 1-2%). In AOA2 cases, we identified 14 novel and three reported SETX mutations. Signs at onset were gait ataxia and facial dyskinesia, and the age ranged between 11 and 18 years. None had obvious oculomotor apraxia at the latest examination (age 14–45 years). The patient carrying the p.K992R SETX polymorphism had a phenotype similar to that of the diagnosed AOA2 patients, while the other three undiagnosed subjects had a very late onset and a few distinguishing clinical features.
Discussion and conclusions
We describe a large series of 13 AOA2 Italian patients. The phenotype was consistent with previous descriptions of AOA2, except for a higher frequency of strabism, and for the absence of oculomotor apraxia. In our survey ~60% of juvenile-to-adult cases with cerebellar ataxia, sensorimotor neuropathy and increased AFP are due to mutations in the SETX gene, and a smaller percentage to APTX and ATM gene mutations.
Ataxia with Oculomotor Apraxia type 2; AOA2; Alpha-fetoprotein; Recessive ataxias; Ataxia telangiectasia; ATM
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) also called exogenous allergic alveolitis = extrinsic allergic alveolitis in children is an uncommon condition and may not be recognized and treated appropriately.
To assess current means of diagnosis and therapy and compare this to recommendations, we used the Surveillance Unit for Rare Paediatric Disorders (ESPED) to identify incident cases of HP in Germany during 2005/6. In addition, cases of HP reported for reference from all over Germany to our center in the consecutive year were included.
Twenty-three children with confirmed pediatric HP were identified. All (age 9.4 y (4.4-15.1) presented with dyspnoea at rest or with exercise, mean FVC was 39% of predicted, seven of the 23 children already had a chronic disease state at presentation. IgG against bird was elevated in 20, and against fungi in 15. Bronchoalveolar lavage was done in 18 subjects (41% lymphocytes, CD4/CD8 1.99), and lung biopsy in 6. Except 2, all children were treated with prolonged courses of systemic steroids. Outcome was not favourable in all cases.
Late diagnosis in up to a quarter of the children with HP and inappropriate steroid treatment must be overcome to improve management of HP. Inclusion of children with HP into international, web-based registry studies will help to study and follow up such rare lung diseases.
Biopsy; Bronchoalveolar lavage; Children; Diffuse parenchymal lung diseases; Exogenous allergic alveolitis = extrinsic allergic alveolitis; Precipitins; Steroid treatment
Usher Syndrome is the leading cause of inherited deaf-blindness. It is divided into three subtypes, of which the most common is Usher type 2, and the USH2A gene accounts for 75-80% of cases. Despite recent sequencing strategies, in our cohort a significant proportion of individuals with Usher type 2 have just one heterozygous disease-causing mutation in USH2A, or no convincing disease-causing mutations across nine Usher genes. The purpose of this study was to improve the molecular diagnosis in these families by screening USH2A for duplications, heterozygous deletions and a common pathogenic deep intronic variant USH2A: c.7595-2144A>G.
Forty-nine Usher type 2 or atypical Usher families who had missing mutations (mono-allelic USH2A or no mutations following Sanger sequencing of nine Usher genes) were screened for duplications/deletions using the USH2A SALSA MLPA reagent kit (MRC-Holland). Identification of USH2A: c.7595-2144A>G was achieved by Sanger sequencing. Mutations were confirmed by a combination of reverse transcription PCR using RNA extracted from nasal epithelial cells or fibroblasts, and by array comparative genomic hybridisation with sequencing across the genomic breakpoints.
Eight mutations were identified in 23 Usher type 2 families (35%) with one previously identified heterozygous disease-causing mutation in USH2A. These consisted of five heterozygous deletions, one duplication, and two heterozygous instances of the pathogenic variant USH2A: c.7595-2144A>G. No variants were found in the 15 Usher type 2 families with no previously identified disease-causing mutations. In 11 atypical families, none of whom had any previously identified convincing disease-causing mutations, the mutation USH2A: c.7595-2144A>G was identified in a heterozygous state in one family. All five deletions and the heterozygous duplication we report here are novel. This is the first time that a duplication in USH2A has been reported as a cause of Usher syndrome.
We found that 8 of 23 (35%) of ‘missing’ mutations in Usher type 2 probands with only a single heterozygous USH2A mutation detected with Sanger sequencing could be attributed to deletions, duplications or a pathogenic deep intronic variant. Future mutation detection strategies and genetic counselling will need to take into account the prevalence of these types of mutations in order to provide a more comprehensive diagnostic service.
Usher syndrome; USH2A; Deletion; Duplication; Pseudoexon; Multiplex ligation dependant probe amplification (MLPA); Array CGH
Congenital generalized lipodystrophy (CGL) or Berardinelli–Seip congenital lipodystrophy (BSCL) is a rare genetic syndrome characterized by the absence of adipose tissue. As CGL is thought to be related to malfunctions in adipocyte development, genes involved in the mechanisms of adipocyte biology and maintenance or differentiation of adipocytes, especially transcription factors are candidates. Several genes (BSCL1-4) were found to be associated to the syndrome but not all CGL patients carry mutations in these genes.
Methods and results
In a patient with CGL and insulin resistance we investigated the known candidate genes but the patient did not carry a relevant mutation. Analyses of the insulin activated signal transduction pathways in isolated fibroblasts of the patient revealed a postreceptor defect altering expression of the immediate early gene c-fos. Sequence analyses revealed a novel homozygous point mutation (c.–439, T→A) in the patients’ c-fos promoter. The point mutation was located upstream of the well characterized promoter elements in a region with no homology to any known cis-elements. The identified mutation was not detected in a total of n=319 non lipodystrophic probands. In vitro analyses revealed that the mutation facilitates the formation of a novel and specific protein/DNA complex. Using mass spectrometry we identified the proteins of this novel complex. Cellular investigations demonstrate that the wild type c-fos promoter can reconstitute the signaling defect in the patient, excluding further upstream signaling alterations, and vice versa the investigations with the c-fos promoter containing the identified mutation generally reduce basal and inducible c-fos transcription activity. As a consequence of the identified point mutation gene expression including c-Fos targeted genes is significantly altered, shown exemplified in cells of the patient.
The immediate-early gene c-fos is one essential transcription factor to initiate adipocyte differentiation. According to the role of c-fos in adipocyte differentiation our findings of a mutation that initiates a repression mechanism at c-fos promoter features the hypothesis that diminished c-fos expression might play a role in CGL by interfering with adipocyte development.
Congenital lipodystrophy; Immediate early genes; Protein/DNA interaction; Transcriptional regulation
Fabry disease is a rare X-linked hereditary disease caused by mutations in the AGAL gene encoding the lysosomal enzyme alpha-galactosidase A. Enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) is the current cornerstone of Fabry disease management. Involvement of kidney, heart and the central nervous system shortens life span, and fibrosis of these organs is a hallmark of the disease. Fibrosis was initially thought to result from tissue ischemia secondary to endothelial accumulation of glycosphingolipids in the microvasculature. However, despite ready clearance of endothelial deposits, ERT is less effective in patients who have already developed fibrosis. Several potential explanations of this clinical observation may impact on the future management of Fabry disease. Alternative molecular pathways linking glycosphingolipids and fibrosis may be operative; tissue injury may recruit secondary molecular mediators of fibrosis that are unresponsive to ERT, or fibrosis may represent irreversible tissue injury that limits the therapeutic response to ERT. We provide an overview of Fabry disease, with a focus on the assessment of fibrosis, the clinical consequences of fibrosis, and recent advances in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of fibrosis that may suggest novel therapeutic approaches to Fabry disease.
Fabry; Fibrosis; Podocyte; Lyso-Gb3; Kidney; Heart; Enzyme replacement therapy
Due to prophylactic colectomy, mortality in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) has changed, with duodenal cancer currently being the main cause of death. Although celecoxib reduces duodenal polyp density in patients with FAP, its long-term use may increase the risk of cardiovascular events and alternatives need to be explored. Preclinical studies suggest that the combination of celecoxib with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is a potentially effective strategy. We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to investigate the effect of celecoxib and UDCA co-treatment on duodenal adenomatosis in patients with FAP.
Patients with FAP received celecoxib (400 mg twice daily) and UDCA (1000-2000 mg daily, ~20-30 mg/kg/day, n=19) or celecoxib and placebo (n=18) orally for 6 months. Primary outcome was drug efficacy, assessed by comparing duodenal polyp density at pre- and post-intervention by blinded review of endoscopic recordings. As secondary outcomes, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and COX-2 levels in normal duodenal mucosa were assessed by immunohistochemistry or real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
In intention-to-treat analysis, deceased polyp density was observed after celecoxib/placebo treatment (p=0.029), whereas increased polyp density was observed after celecoxib/UDCA treatment (p=0.014). The difference in change in duodenal polyp density was statistically significant between the groups (p=0.011). No changes in secondary outcomes were observed. Thirty patients (81%) reported one or more adverse events, 16 patients (84%, Common Toxicity Criteria for Adverse Events version 3.0 (CTCAE) grade 1–3) treated with celecoxib/UDCA and 14 patients (78%, CTCAE grade 1–2) treated with celecoxib/placebo. Nine patients (24%) discontinued intervention prematurely, 5 patients (26%) treated with celecoxib/UDCA and 4 patients (22%) treated with celecoxib/placebo.
Celecoxib reduces duodenal polyp density in patients with FAP, and unexpectedly, high dose UDCA co-treatment counteracts this effect. The benefit of long term use of celecoxib for duodenal cancer prevention needs to be weighed against the (risk of) adverse events.
Familial adenomatous polyposis; Chemoprevention; Celecoxib; Ursodeoxycholic acid; Duodenal adenomatosis; Cell proliferation; Apoptosis; Cyclooxygenase-2
RYR1 mutations are typically associated with core myopathies and are the most common overall cause of congenital myopathy. Dominant mutations are most often associated with central core disease and malignant hyperthermia, and genotype-phenotype patterns have emerged from the study of these mutations that have contributed to the understanding of disease pathogenesis. The recent availability of genetic testing for the entire RYR1 coding sequence has led to a dramatic expansion in the identification of recessive mutations in core myopathies and other congenital myopathies. To date, no clear patterns have been identified in these recessive mutations, though no systematic examination has yet been performed.
In this study, we investigated genotype-phenotype correlations in a large combined cohort of unpublished (n = 14) and previously reported (n = 92) recessive RYR1 cases.
Overall examination of this cohort revealed nearly 50% of cases to be non-core myopathy related. Our most significant finding was that hypomorphic mutations (mutations expected to diminish RyR1 expression) were enriched in patients with severe clinical phenotypes. We also determined that hypomorphic mutations were more likely to be encountered in non-central core myopathies. With analysis of the location of non-hypomorphic mutations, we found that missense mutations were generally enriched in the MH/CCD hotspots and specifically enriched in the selectivity filter of the channel pore.
These results support a hypothesis that loss of protein function is a key predictive disease parameter. In addition, they suggest that decreased RyR1 expression may dictate non-core related pathology though, data on protein expression was limited and should be confirmed in a larger cohort. Lastly, the results implicate abnormal ion conductance through the channel pore in the pathogenesis in recessive core myopathies. Overall, our findings represent a comprehensive analysis of genotype-phenotype associations in recessive RYR1-myopathies.
Genotype-phenotype relationships; RYR1; Congenital myopathies
Parathyroid carcinoma is a rare malignant endocrine tumor accounting for only 0.5% to 5% of all primary hyperparathyroidism. Among these malignancies, only 10-25% are nonfunctioning. After the review of the literature we could only ascertain a number of 25 cases reported worldwide, since 1929, our case being the 26th, but the first with a very aggressive pathology, treated with chemotherapy scheme usually used for neuroendocrine tumors. Considering these facts, every single case presented is a step forward in defying the clinical presentation, for the awareness of the clinicians, and also in establishing standard adjuvant therapies.
Parathyroid; Cancer; Non-functional
Mutations in the CTSA gene, that encodes the protective protein/cathepsin A or PPCA, lead to the secondary deficiency of β-galactosidase (GLB1) and neuraminidase 1 (NEU1), causing the lysosomal storage disorder galactosialidosis (GS). Few clinical cases of GS have been reported in the literature, the majority of them belonging to the juvenile/adult group of patients.
The correct nomenclature of mutations for this gene is discussed through the analysis of the three PPCA/CTSA isoforms available in the GenBank database. Phenotype-genotype correlation has been assessed by computational analysis and review of previously reported single amino acid substitutions.
We report the clinical and mutational analyses of four cases with the rare infantile form of GS. We identified three novel nucleotide changes, two of them resulting in the missense mutations, c.347A>G (p.His116Arg), c.775T>C (p.Cys259Arg), and the third, c.1216C>T, resulting in the p.Gln406* stop codon, a type of mutation identified for the first time in GS. An Italian founder effect of the c.114delG mutation can be suggested according to the origin of the only three patients carrying this mutation reported here and in the literature.
In early reports mutations nomenclature was selected according to all CTSA isoforms (three different isoforms), thus generating a lot of confusion. In order to assist physicians in the interpretation of detected mutations, we mark the correct nomenclature for CTSA mutations. The complexity of pathology caused by the multifunctions of CTSA, and the very low numbers of mutations (only 23 overall) in relation to the length of the CTSA gene are discussed.
In addition, the in silico functional predictions of all reported missense mutations allowed us to closely predict the early infantile, late infantile and juvenile phenotypes, also disclosing different degrees of severity in the juvenile phenotype.
Ichthyoses are a heterogeneous group of rare genodermatoses. Patients and their families face difficulties related to daily care and management that may be aggravated by social isolation.
To evaluate the impact of therapeutic educational programs in improving the knowledge of ichthyosis patients, and their relatives, about their disease.
Patients and methods
We organized a two sessions-program of “know-how” dedicated to the overall management of ichthyoses. These sessions were conducted based on a tool specifically designed for the study, which addressed our various areas of expertise through a collective game. The participants (patients and their parents and siblings) were divided into groups, and the questions were tailored according to the participants’ age. The program was conceived as a knowledge reinforcement program that took place during a weekend of education and rest, organized away from healthcare structures. Our aim was to facilitate the program in a neutral place to encourage respite care and to ensure the availability of a multidisciplinary healthcare team.
After the reinforcement session, children aged from 6 to 12 years and their families acquired the targeted know-how and social skills.
Benefits of TPE in the management of ichthyoses are the following: (1) the trust between patients their families and the caregivers was strengthened; (2) the context of the program encouraged self-expression, answered questions and provided mutual aid; and (3) the more self-sufficient families could better manage emergencies.
Genodermatoses; Therapeutic patient education; Children; Adults; Ichthyosis; Collective program
Phyllodes tumors are uncommon breast tumors that account for less than 0.5% of all breast malignancies. After metastases develop, the prognosis is poor, with very few patients living more than 1 year. The biology of this unusual cancer is not understood and, consequently, no potential targets for treatments are currently available. There has been an exponential increase in the number of commercially available tumor profiling services. Herein, we report a case of metastatic malignant phyllodes tumor for which a comprehensive molecular analysis was performed by using Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified labs, providing new insights into the potential opportunities for molecularly targeted therapies for this extremely rare disease.
Next-generation sequencing was performed by using the FoundationOne™ platform (Foundation Medicine, Cambridge, MA). Whole-genome array-based comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) was performed by using the DNAarray™ (CombiMatrix Diagnostics, Irvine, CA). Immunohistochemical and morphoproteomics analysis were performed at Consultative proteomics®, The University of Texas, UT Health Medical School, Houston,TX (Robert E Brown Lab); Clarient Diagnostics, Aliso Viejo, CA; and Caris Life Sciences Target one, Irving, TX, USA.
Next-generation sequencing showed 3 aberrant genes: activating mutation Q61L on NRAS; inactivating mutations Q504* and K740* on RB1; and TP53 loss. Whole-genome array-based comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) revealed amplifications of chromosome (chr.) 1 (CKS1B gene), chr. 8 (MYC gene), and chr. 9 (CDKN2A gene) Deletions of chr. 17 (TP53), chr. 10 (GATA3), chr. 11 (FGF4 and CCND1 genes), and chr.22 (PDGFβ). Immunohistochemical analysis for relevant markers showed a positive staining for transducing-like enhancer of split (TLE) 3; secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) was expressed at 2-3+ in the cytoplasm of the tumors cells, whereas mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) was expressed up to 2+ in the nuclei of the tumor cells.
We describe for the first time an NRAS mutation with concomitant activation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR in phyllodes tumor. We also found markers for sensitivity to taxane-based therapies, especially albumin-bound paclitaxel. Exploring the biology of rare malignancies by CLIA certified labs may be reasonable strategy for the development of targeted treatments.
Phyllodes tumor; Phyllodes sarcoma; Sarcoma; Targeted therapy; Chemotherapy; SPARC; TLE3; NRAS; P53; P13K; Mutation; Rare disease; Breast cancer; Breast sarcoma; Next generation sequencing; CLIA; Immunohistochemistry; Morphoproteomics; Proteomics; Whole genome sequencing
Mutations in EFTUD2 were proven to cause a very distinct mandibulofacial dysostosis type Guion-Almeida (MFDGA, OMIM #610536). Recently, gross deletions and mutations in EFTUD2 were determined to cause syndromic esophageal atresia (EA), as well. We set forth to find further conditions caused by mutations in the EFTUD2 gene (OMIM *603892).
Methods and results
We performed exome sequencing in two familial cases with clinical features overlapping with MFDGA and EA, but which were previously assumed to represent distinct entities, a syndrome with esophageal atresia, hypoplasia of zygomatic complex, microcephaly, cup-shaped ears, congenital heart defect, and intellectual disability in a mother and her two children [AJMG 143A(11):1135-1142, 2007] and a supposedly autosomal recessive oto-facial syndrome with midline malformations in two sisters [AJMG 132(4):398-401, 2005]. While the analysis of our exome data was in progress, a recent publication made EFTUD2 mutations highly likely in these families. This hypothesis could be confirmed with exome as well as with Sanger sequencing. Also, in three further sporadic patients, clinically overlapping to these two families, de novo mutations within EFTUD2 were identified by Sanger sequencing. Our clinical and molecular workup of the patients discloses a broad phenotypic spectrum, and describes for the first time an instance of germline mosaicism for an EFTUD2 mutation.
The clinical features of the eight patients described here further broaden the phenotypic spectrum caused by EFTUD2 mutations or deletions. We here show, that it not only includes mandibulofacial dysostosis type Guion-Almeida, which should be reclassified as an acrofacial dysostosis because of thumb anomalies (present in 12/35 or 34% of patients) and syndromic esophageal atresia [JMG 49(12). 737-746, 2012], but also the two new syndromes, namely oto-facial syndrome with midline malformations published by Mégarbané et al. [AJMG 132(4): 398-401, 2005] and the syndrome published by Wieczorek et al. [AJMG 143A(11): 1135-1142, 2007] The finding of mild phenotypic features in the mother of one family that could have been overlooked and the possibility of germline mosaicism in apparently healthy parents in the other family should be taken into account when counseling such families.
EFTUD2; Mandibulofacial dysostosis type Guion-Almeida (MFDGA); Esophageal atresia (EA); Oto-facial syndrome with midline malformation, Acrofacial dysostosis type Guion-Almeida (AFDGA)
Fabry_CEP is a user-friendly web-application designed to help clinicians Choose Eligible Patients for the therapy with pharmacological chaperones. It provides a database and a predictive tool to evaluate the responsiveness of lysosomal alpha-galactosidase mutants to a small molecule drug, namely 1-Deoxy-galactonojirimycin. The user can introduce any missense/nonsense mutation in the coding sequence, learn whether it is has been tested and gain access to appropriate reference literature. In the absence of experimental data structural, functional and evolutionary analysis provides a prediction and the probability that a given mutation is responsive to the drug.
Fabry disease; Pharmacological chaperone; Web-application; Therapy
Legislative incentives enacted in Europe through the Regulation (EC) No. 141/2000 to incentivize orphan drug development have over the last 12 years constituted a powerful impetus toward R&D directed at the rare diseases population.
However, despite therapeutic promises contained in these projects and significant economic impact linked to burgeoning R&D expenditures, the affordability and value of OMPs has become a topic of health policy debate in Europe fueled by the perception that OMPs have high acquisition costs, and by misconceptions around pricing dynamics and rare-diseases business models. In order to maintain sustainable patient access to new and innovative therapies, it is essential to address these misconceptions, and to ensure the successful continuation of a dynamic OMPs R&D within rare-diseases public health policy.
Misconceptions abound regarding the pricing of rare diseases drugs and reflect a poor appreciation of the R&D model and the affordability and value of OMPs.
Simulation of potential financial returns of small medium sized rare diseases companies focusing on high priced drugs show that their economic returns are likely to be close to their cost of capital. Research in rare diseases is a challenging endeavour characterised by high fixed costs in which companies accrue substantial costs for several years before potentially generating returns from the fruits of their investments. Although heavily dependent upon R&D capabilities of each individual company or R&D organization, continuous flow of R&D financial investment should allow industry to increasingly include efficiencies in research and development in cost considerations to its customers. Industry should also pro-actively work on facilitating development of a specific value based pricing approach to help understanding what constitute value in rare diseases. Policy makers must reward innovation based upon unmet need and patient outcome. Broader understanding by clinicians, the public, and policy makers of the complexity of clinical programs to deliver OMPs to market is required to better comprehend the decisions needed and made by industry. In parallel, an overt effort to consider the impact of public policies on R&D investments is key to enable policy makers to better reconcile the incentives provided by public policy decisions and companies investments decisions in a more positive manner.
Mutations in MECP2 are the main cause of Rett Syndrome. To date, no pathogenic synonymous MECP2 mutation has yet been identified. Here, we investigated a de novo synonymous variant c.48C>T (p.Gly16Gly) identified in a girl presenting with a typical RTT phenotype.
In silico analyses to predict the effects of sequence variation on mRNA splicing were employed, followed by sequencing and quantification of lymphocyte mRNAs from the subject for splice variants MECP2_E1 and MECP2_E2.
Analysis of mRNA confirmed predictions that this synonymous mutation activates a splice-donor site at an early position in exon 1, leading to a deletion (r.[=, 48_63del]), codon frameshift and premature stop codon (p.Glu17Lysfs*16) for MECP2_E1. For MECP2_E2, the same premature splice site is used, but as this is located in the 5′untranslated region, no effect on the amino acid sequence is predicted. Quantitative analysis that specifically measured this cryptic splice variant also revealed a significant decrease in the quantity of the correct MECP2_E1 transcript, which indicates that this is the etiologically significant mutation in this patient.
These findings suggest that synonymous variants of MECP2 as well as other known disease genes—and de novo variants in particular— should be re-evaluated for potential effects on splicing.
Cryptic splice site; Synonymous mutation; MECP2, exon 1; Rett syndrome; Silent mutation; Frame-shift mutation
Almost every female classic galactosemia patient develops primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) as a diet-independent complication of the disease. This is a major concern for patients and their parents, and physicians are often asked about possible options to preserve fertility. Unfortunately, there are no recommendations on fertility preservation in this group. The unique pathophysiology of classic galactosemia with a severely reduced follicle pool at an early age requires an adjusted approach. In this article recommendations for physicians based on current knowledge concerning galactosemia and fertility preservation are made. Fertility preservation is only likely to be successful in very young prepubertal patients. In this group, cryopreservation of ovarian tissue is currently the only available technique. However, this technique is not ready for clinical application, it is considered experimental and reduces the ovarian reserve. Fertility preservation at an early age also raises ethical questions that should be taken into account. In addition, spontaneous conception despite POI is well described in classic galactosemia. The uncertainty surrounding fertility preservation and the significant chance of spontaneous pregnancy warrant counseling towards conservative application of these techniques. We propose that fertility preservation should only be offered with appropriate institutional research ethics approval to classic galactosemia girls at a young prepubertal age.
Classic galactosemia; GALT deficiency; Primary ovarian insufficiency; POI; Fertility preservation; Cryopreservation
Laminopathies, due to mutations in LMNA, encoding A type-lamins, can lead to premature ageing and/or lipodystrophic syndromes, showing that these diseases could have close physiopathological relationships. We show here that lipodystrophy and extreme insulin resistance can also reveal the adult progeria Werner syndrome linked to mutations in WRN, encoding a RecQ DNA helicase.
We analysed the clinical and biological features of two women, aged 32 and 36, referred for partial lipodystrophic syndrome which led to the molecular diagnosis of Werner syndrome. Cultured skin fibroblasts from one patient were studied.
Two normal-weighted women presented with a partial lipodystrophic syndrome with hypertriglyceridemia and liver steatosis. One of them had also diabetes. Both patients showed a peculiar, striking lipodystrophic phenotype with subcutaneous lipoatrophy of the four limbs contrasting with truncal and abdominal fat accumulation. Their oral glucose tolerance tests showed extremely high levels of insulinemia, revealing major insulin resistance. Low serum levels of sex-hormone binding globulin and adiponectin suggested a post-receptor insulin signalling defect. Other clinical features included bilateral cataracts, greying hair and distal skin atrophy. We observed biallelic WRN null mutations in both women (p.Q748X homozygous, and compound heterozygous p.Q1257X/p.M1329fs). Their fertility was decreased, with preserved menstrual cycles and normal follicle-stimulating hormone levels ruling out premature ovarian failure. However undetectable anti-müllerian hormone and inhibin B indicated diminished follicular ovarian reserve. Insulin-resistance linked ovarian hyperandrogenism could also contribute to decreased fertility, and the two patients became pregnant after initiation of insulin-sensitizers (metformin). Both pregnancies were complicated by severe cervical incompetence, leading to the preterm birth of a healthy newborn in one case, but to a second trimester-abortion in the other. WRN-mutated fibroblasts showed oxidative stress, increased lamin B1 expression, nuclear dysmorphies and premature senescence.
We show here for the first time that partial lipodystrophy with severe insulin resistance can reveal WRN-linked premature aging syndrome. Increased expression of lamin B1 with altered lamina architecture observed in WRN-mutated fibroblasts could contribute to premature cellular senescence. Primary alterations in DNA replication and/or repair should be considered as possible causes of lipodystrophic syndromes.
Lipodystrophy; Insulin resistance; WRN gene; Premature aging; Progeria; Pregnancy; Decreased ovarian reserve; Cervical insufficiency; Prelamin A; Lamin B1