Rare Diseases: Joining Mainstream Research and Treatment Based on Reliable Epidemiological Data

  • Stephen C. GroftEmail author
  • Manuel Posada de la Paz
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1031)


Despite growing acceptance of patient registries and natural history studies to provide useful information, the rare disease community suffers from the absence of reliable epidemiological data on the prevalence and incidence of most rare diseases in national and global populations. Likewise, the patients and health care providers lack adequate information on the pathophysiology of rare diseases and expected outcomes of these disorders. The rare diseases community includes all of the stakeholders involved in the research and development and dissemination of products and information for the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of rare diseases or conditions. To replace many of the perceptions with realities, several global efforts have been implemented to sustain and increase the reported progress with the thousands of rare diseases. The first efforts is to develop a global research infrastructure of qualified investigators to stimulate and coordinate research efforts by seeking ways to provide access to clinical trials at multi-national research sites with common protocols and multi-disciplinary research teams. Next, is the continued identification and expansion of worldwide partnerships and collaborations of Patient Advocacy Groups (PAGs), research investigators, the biopharmaceutical and medical devices industries, and the government research and regulatory agencies for a specific rare disease or group of related diseases. Gaining access to information about rare diseases, patient advocacy groups, ongoing and planned research studies and products in research protocols continue to improve the lives of patients and their families. Many basic, clinical and translational research investigators, public and private sector funding organizations, patient advocacy groups, foundations, and the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical devices industries are committed to translating research discoveries that will be useful in the treatment and care of patients with rare diseases over their lifespan. Evidence from well-constructed epidemiological studies will provide the evidence that point to the value of additional clinical studies to increase the understanding of rare diseases.


Rare diseases Clinical research networks Epidemiology Information systems Patient advocacy groups Orphan drugs Orphan products 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Center for Advancing Translational SciencesNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.RDR and CIBERERInstituto de Salud Carlos IIIMadridSpain

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