Recordings of ERN-RND Spring School 2024 online

If you missed a session of our Spring School “DBS in Dystonia” you can now watch it online. The following recordings are available:

New Publication on NGS for RND

Read now our newly published paper on “Quality assurance for next-generation sequencing diagnostics of rare neurological diseases in the European Reference Network” by Aleš Maver, Katja Lohmann, Fran Borovečki, Nicola Wolstenholme, Rachel L. Taylor, Malte Spielmann, Tobias B. Haack, Matthias Gerberding, Borut Peterlin & Holm Graessner in the European Journal of Human Genomics.


In the past decade, next-generation sequencing (NGS) has revolutionised genetic diagnostics for rare neurological disorders (RND). However, the lack of standardised technical, interpretative, and reporting standards poses a challenge for ensuring consistent and high-quality diagnostics globally. To address this, the European Reference Network for Rare Neurological Diseases (ERN-RND) collaborated with the European Molecular Genetics Quality Network (EMQN) to establish an external quality assessment scheme for NGS-based diagnostics in RNDs. The scheme, initiated in 2021 with a pilot involving 29 labs and followed by a second round in 2022 with 42 labs, aimed to evaluate the performance of laboratories in genetic testing for RNDs. Each participating lab analysed genetic data from three hypothetical cases, assessing genotyping, interpretation, and clerical accuracy. Despite a majority of labs using exome or genome sequencing, there was considerable variability in gene content, sequencing quality, adherence to standards, and clinical guidance provision. Results showed that while most labs provided correct molecular diagnoses, there was significant variability in reporting technical quality, adherence to interpretation standards, reporting strategies, and clinical commentary. Notably, some labs returned results with the potential for adverse medical outcomes. This underscores the need for further harmonisation, guideline development, and external quality assessment in the evolving landscape of genomic diagnostics for RNDs. Overall, the experience with the scheme highlighted the generally good quality of participating labs but emphasised the imperative for ongoing improvement in data analysis, interpretation, and reporting to enhance patient safety.

The ERN-RND ePAG visits the Medical University Innsbruck

“Getting coordinated care is not a pipe-dream. It is a reality in Innsbruck and can be a reality in other places” (Patient Advocate from ERN-RND)

The question our ePAG asked ourselves in January of 2024: What does good care look like? We thought it wise to visit an Expert Center to learn about the expertise and the standards that they provide to patients. We identified a center that covered all of the representative diseases in the ERN-RND. We then decided on the questions we wanted answered.

On 24 May, the ePAG of the ERN-RND left their mark in Innsbruck, where they visited Dr. Sylvia Boesch and her team -at the Center for Rare Movement Disorders Innsbruck (CRMDI) in the Medical University Innsbruck.

Dr. Matthias Amprosi, part of the neurology team at the CRMDI made a presentation, which covered the majority of the questions we sent them prior to our visit. We learned about the clinic and how many patients they see and help per year. We learned about studies that are currently in progress. We learned that there are also organizational, nursing and physiotherapy teams, as well as social workers, all of whom are exclusively assigned to the Department of Neurology. We then saw that in action.

We visited the physiotherapy center where you learn skills while you’re having fun. For example, you can use the h/p/ cosmos fitness trainer for gait analysis while watching a screen in front of you and stepping over objects “in your way.” You can play Wii Fit or, you can use the tyromotion to train fine motor skills by copying a simple drawing.

We also met a 24-year-old male with Friedreich’s Ataxia, who was being advised by his doctors about appropriate jobs because the social welfare office isn’t familiar with that disease and cannot offer advice.

Our ePAG had this to say about the visit: “The presentation of the center’s entry into the ERN was amazing and it was so interesting to see how they work with the ERN network and understand the mutual benefits. It was also interesting to get an overview and to learn about the studies that are in progress at the moment. The implementation of rehabilitation, research and training into the clinical units is impressive. This is a forward-leaning and enthusiastic staff. Also impressive is the holistic approach, in both physiotherapy and in Sylvia’s approach of taking very good care of her patients.”

To thank Dr. Bösch for the visit, the patient representatives gave her a zebra figurine as a symbol of rare diseases: “When one hears hoofbeats, it isn’t necessarily a horse, it can be the much rarer zebra.”

What is equally impressive is how well this ePAG works together. We genuinely like each other and have spent time developing our professional relationship for the benefit of all the people we represent.

Report written by Lori Renna Linton, member of the ERN-RND European Patient Advocacy Group (ePAG)

Annual Meeting 2024

We are happy to announce that the ERN-RND Annual Meeting 2024 will be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 10-11 October 2024. We expect one representative of each HCP to be present in Ljubljana. Additionally, online participation will be open to as many colleagues from ERN-RND as possible.

ERN-RND Spring School 2024

Our 5th Winter School will be a Spring School this year and will focus on Deep Brain Stimulation in Dystonia. It will be held online from April 17 to 19, 2024.

The registration is not open yet, but you can already have a peek at the Preliminary Programme:

17 April 2024   I   Indications and Diagnosis

  • Isolated Dystonia (inherited, idiopathic)
  • Infancy Dystonia
  • Combined Dystonia
  • Botulinum toxin: opportunities & limitations
  • Drug therapy and neurorehabilitation: opportunities & limitations

18 April 2024   I   How to do DBS/ Neurosurgery

  • Neurosurgery aspects of DBS in Dystonia (including alternative targets (STN, VOA, VIM))
  • Specific aspects of DBS in paediatric Dystonia
  • MER and LFP-signals for implantation and programming in Dystonia patients
  • Neuroimaging for implantation and programming in Dystonia patients

19 April 2024   I   Troubleshooting and Cases

  • Strategies of DBS troubleshooting in Dystonia
  • Dystonic crisis/ reactions
  • Case presentations

For further information please contact Christine Diaite-Hecht.