Boston Children’s Is Holding a Competition To Solve Medical Mysteries

Twenty-six teams will try to use genomic information to solve five patients' undiagnosed diseases.

Boston Children’s Hospital announced Tuesday that it’s sponsoring a unique competition: a genomic sequencing contest aimed at solving five patients’ medical mysteries.

Called the CLARITY Undiagnosed competition, it tasks 26 teams from organizations around the world with using genomic sequencing to solve undiagnosed conditions. The teams were given each patient’s DNA sequencing and medical information, as well as information about their immediate relatives, in July, with the goal of using genomics to understand and create treatment plans for the rare conditions. The team that does the best job will receive $25,000, and results will be announced at the hospital’s Global Pediatric Summit in November.

In a statement, Alan Beggs, the co-organizer of CLARITY and the director of the hospital’s Manton Center For Orphan Disease Research, said CLARITY could make better use of genomic sequencing information, a field that has grown rapidly in recent years:

“There are more than 7,000 rare or ‘orphan’ diseases, so it’s quite common for a patient’s physician to have never seen a similar case,” says Beggs. “Families can go for years without a diagnosis, feeling isolation and sometimes despair. The promise of discovering the genetic basis for their condition allows patients to form communities and physicians to provide accurate prognostic predictions, genetic counseling and appropriate targeted therapies.”

Of the 26 teams competing, four come from the Boston area: Chestnut Hill’s SimulConsult, and Cambridge’s Miti Medicine Inc., Seven Bridges Genomics, and WuXi NextCODE Genomics.