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Undiagnosed Diseases Program Solves Medical Mysteries

Posted by | 3:52pm on Thursday, November 10, 2011 | No Comments

The UDP has the daunting task of providing answers and diagnoses to patients with medical mysteries that have long gone unsolved 

DNA imageAfter its first two years of work, the Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP)  of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a report highlighting its results: 37 cases received a diagnosis, and 2 new diseases were discovered.

The UDP has the daunting task of providing answers and diagnoses to patients with medical mysteries that have long gone unsolved. Clinical researchers at the UDP take advantage of the expertise of their NIH colleagues in numerous medical specialties to collaborate in finding answers for these desperate patients. And in addition to helping individuals, they also work to advance the field of medicine with knowledge about both rare and more common conditions.

Overwhelming interest
The UDP called for applications back in May 2008, received 1,191 cases over time, and accepted 326 patients into the program. Each application requires a summary letter from a referring healthcare provider and complete medical records. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming number of applications, the program currently has a backlog and since July 2011 has suspended acceptance of new applications. These numbers indicate the serious need for this program and highlight the thousands of people who are struggling to obtain a diagnosis. Working in rare diseases, we often hear stories from patients about their struggle to find a diagnosis – frequently taking years. Here’s one example from a Siren colleague: The Journey to Diagnosis Is Often Bumpy.

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