A Comprehensive, Multidisciplinary, Precision Medicine Approach to Discover Effective Therapy for an Undiagnosed, Progressive, Fibro-inflammatory Disease

Translational Research
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Gochuico BR, Ziegler SG, Ten NS, Balanda NJ, Mason CE, Zumbo P, Evans CA, Van Waes C, Gahl WA and Malicdan MCV.

Translational Research. 28 August 2019 doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2019.08.008

Abstract

Precision medicine has generated diagnoses for many patients with challenging undiagnosed disorders. Some individuals remain without a diagnosis despite comprehensive testing, and this impedes their treatment. This report addresses the role of personalized medicine in identifying effective therapy for an undiagnosed disease. A 22-year old woman presented with chronic severe recurrent trismus, facial pain, progressive multicentric inflammatory and fibrotic masses, and high C-reactive protein. Sites of disease included the pterygomaxillary region, masseter muscles, mandible, lung, pericardium, intrabdominal cavity, and retroperitoneum. A diagnosis was not established after an extensive assessment, including multiple biopsies. The patient was subsequently evaluated under the Undiagnosed Diseases Program at the National Institutes of Health. Large scale genotyping, proteomic studies, and in vitro and gene expression analyses of fibroblasts obtained from a major disease locus were performed. Germline genetic testing did not identify strong candidate genes; proteomic studies of the patient's serum and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and gene expression analyses of her cells were consistent with dysregulation of the tumor necrosis factor-alpha pathway. The patient's cultured fibroblasts were incubated with selected drugs, and cell proliferation was inhibited by hydroxychloroquine. Treatment of the patient with hydroxychloroquine conferred prolonged beneficial clinical effects, including stabilization of trismus and reduction of corticosteroid dose, C-reactive protein, and size of masses. This case represents an example of precision medicine applied to discover effective treatments for individuals with enigmatic undiagnosed disorders.