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Shin J.,University of Notre Dame | Epperson K.,University of Notre Dame | Yanjanin N.M.,U.S. National Institutes of Health | Albus J.,NPC Consortium for Community Based Assessment of Patient Records | And 65 more authors.

Niemann-Pick Disease, type C (NPC) is a fatal, neurodegenerative, lysosomal storage disorder. It is a rare disease with broad phenotypic spectrum and variable age of onset. These issues make it difficult to develop a universally accepted clinical outcome measure to assess urgently needed therapies. To this end, clinical investigators have defined emerging, disease severity scales. The average time from initial symptom to diagnosis is approximately 4 years. Further, some patients may not travel to specialized clinical centers even after diagnosis. We were therefore interested in investigating whether appropriately trained, community-based assessment of patient records could assist in defining disease progression using clinical severity scores. In this study we evolved a secure, step wise process to show that pre-existing medical records may be correctly assessed by non-clinical practitioners trained to quantify disease progression. Sixty-four undergraduate students at the University of Notre Dame were expertly trained in clinical disease assessment and recognition of major and minor symptoms of NPC. Seven clinical records, randomly selected from a total of thirty seven used to establish a leading clinical severity scale, were correctly assessed to show expected characteristics of linear disease progression. Student assessment of two new records donated by NPC families to our study also revealed linear progression of disease, but both showed accelerated disease progression, relative to the current severity scale, especially at the later stages. Together, these data suggest that college students may be trained in assessment of patient records, and thus provide insight into the natural history of a disease. Source

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