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Ending the Odyssey

With an infusion of $43 million, the US National Institutes of Health aims to "clear a backlog of medical cold cases, using dazzling new tools now at the disposal of medical sleuths," the Los Angeles Times says.

NIH announced last week that it would be providing funding for the Undiagnosed Diseases Network, an expansion of the six-year-old Undiagnosed Diseases Program at the NIH Clinical Center being led by the National Human Genome Research Institute.

The new network will include Baylor College of Medicine; Duke University; Stanford University; the University of California, Los Angeles; Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and a Boston-based group of Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

UCLA's Stan Nelson tells the LA Times that the program aims to end the diagnostic odysseys that patients with rare diseases face. For example, Nelson was recently able to determine the genetic cause of why an infant was wracked by seizures.

"Now we have the tools in routine clinical practice where we can and should be able to figure it out," he adds.