New rare disease with own facial features, cardiac defects and developmental delay

May 20, 2020

An international multicentre study describes a rare disease characterized by a series of recognizable facial features, cardiac defects, and intellectual disability, which they propose to name as TRAF7 syndrome -according to the name of the gene that causes this pathology.

The study, published in the journal Genetics in Medicine, is led by a team of the Faculty of Biology of the University of Barcelona and the Institute of Biomedicine of the University of Barcelona (IBUB), the Rare Diseases Networking Biomedical Research Centre (CIBERER) and the Research Institute Sant Joan de Déu (IRSJD), in collaboration with experts from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM).

In this research, the experts identified 45 patients who were not previously diagnosed with whom they could gain knowledge on this new syndrome, so far defined with only 1 previous article based on the study of 7 people.

With the analysis of new patients, the authors described the clinical picture associated with the TRAF7 syndrome, featured by intellectual disability, motor delay, specific facial features, hearing loss, a heart congenital malformation (patent ductus arteriosus) and skeletal defects in fingers, neck, and chest.

Apart from defining the TRAF7 syndrome-associated phenotype spectrum, the authors of the new study analyzed the transcriptome-global expression analysis of all genes in a cell, of fibroblasts, the most common type of cell in the connective tissue, in several patients and controls. Therefore, it is possible to offer an explanation of the altered pathways in case the gen mutates and the disease originates.

Among other features that can contribute to identify the affected patients are also the blepharophimosis (eyelids are horizontally shortened), short neck with back deviations, pectus carinatum (malformation in the chest where the chest wall is held in outward position), and macrocephaly.

Last, the team used a computer application, based on photographs of several patients, to get a robot portrait of the syndrome which could be of interest to the pediatricians who have to work with cases of this disease.

Source: News Release
University of Barcelona
May 19, 2020