Rare diseases, such as inherited metabolic diseases, have been identified as a health priority within the European Union more than 20 years ago and have become an integral part of EU health programs and European Reference Networks. Having the potential to pool data, to achieve sufficient sample size, to overcome the knowledge gap on rare diseases and to foster epidemiological and clinical research, patient registries are recognized as key instruments to evidence-based medicine for individuals with rare diseases.
Patient registries can be used for multiple purposes, such as describing the natural history and phenotypic diversity of rare diseases, improving case definition and indication to treat, identifying strategies for risk stratification and early prediction of disease severity, evaluating the impact of preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies on individual health, health economics, and the society, and informing guideline development and policy makers. In contrast to clinical trials, patient registries aim to gather real-world evidence and to achieve generalizable results based on patient cohorts with a broad phenotypic spectrum. In order to develop a consistent and sustained framework for rare disease registries, uniform core principles have been formulated and have been formalized through the European Rare Disease Registration Infrastructure. Adherence to these core principles and compliance with the European general data protection regulations ensures that data collected and stored in patient registries can be exchanged and pooled in a protected environment.
To illustrate the benefits and limitations of patient registries on rare disease research this review focuses on inherited metabolic diseases. Read the full article here.