The Italian neuromuscular registry: A coordinated platform where patient organizations and clinicians collaborate for data collection and multiple usage

Anna Ambrosini, Daniela Calabrese, Francesco Maria Avato, Felice Catania, Guido Cavaletti, Maria Carmela Pera, Antonio Toscano, Giuseppe Vita, Lucia Monaco, Davide Pareyson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The worldwide landscape of patient registries in the neuromuscular disease (NMD) field has significantly changed in the last 10 years, with the international TREAT-NMD network acting as strong driver. At the same time, the European Medicines Agency and the large federations of rare disease patient organizations (POs), such as EURORDIS, contributed to a great cultural change, by promoting a paradigm shift from product-registries to patient-centred registries. In Italy, several NMD POs and Fondazione Telethon undertook the development of a TREAT-NMD linked patient registry in 2009, with the referring clinical network providing input and support to this initiative through the years. This article describes the outcome of this joint effort and shares the experience gained. Methods: The Italian NMD registry is based on an informatics technology platform, structured according to the most rigorous legal national and European requirements for management of patient sensitive data. A user-friendly web interface allows both direct patients and clinicians' participation. The platform's design permits expansion to incorporate new modules and new registries, and is suitable of interoperability with other international efforts. Results: When the Italian NMD Registry was initiated, an ad hoc legal entity (NMD Registry Association) was devised to manage registries' data. Currently, several disease-specific databases are hosted on the platform. They collect molecular and clinical details of individuals affected by Duchenne or Becker muscular dystrophy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, transthyretin type-familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy, muscle glycogen storage disorders, spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, and spinal muscular atrophy. These disease-specific registries are at different stage of development, and the NMD Registry itself has gone through several implementation steps to fulfil different technical and governance needs. The new governance model is based on the agreement between the NMD Registry Association and the professional societies representing the Italian NMD clinical network. Overall, up to now the NMD registry has collected data on more than 2000 individuals living with a NMD condition. Conclusions: The Italian NMD Registry is a flexible platform that manages several condition-specific databases and is suitable to upgrade. All stakeholders participate in its management, with clear roles and responsibilities. This governance model has been key to its success. In fact, it favored patient empowerment and their direct participation in research, while also engaging the expert clinicians of the Italian network in the collection of accurate clinical data according to the best clinical practices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number176
JournalOrphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 4 2018


  • Clinical network
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Patient engagement
  • Patient registries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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