What in the World Are Orphan Diseases?

We have all heard the term orphan when it comes to children without parents. However, not too many of us realize that there is that there are diseases called orphan diseases. It is a disease to which many people do not pay attention. There is hardly any research or no funding going into finding the causes and the treatments. The reason for this is that there is no big demand for it.

The astounding part of this is that is there there are thousands of these types of diseases throughout the world. There are thousands of people dying from them. They are in small groups so it is still classed as something that really is not in the public eye. So quite often unfortunately, the individual that is suffering from one of these orphan diseases has really nowhere to turn. Their doctors do not know much about it, there are no support groups and there is no research or hope for the future for these individuals.

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So what are the criteria for an orphan disease usually? If it affects less than 200,000 people then it has called an orphan disease. There are just not enough sufferers to make it worthy for the research.

Another interesting point is because there is such a low number of people suffering from these orphan diseases that the Pharmaceutical Companies that make the medications really don't want to put any research into it as well. It is not going to generate a big income for them. Most of the orphan diseases are genetic which makes them even more difficult to research.

Under this umbrella also comes some rare viruses or bacteria that are not usually seen. Sometimes even just some weird allergies develop. Being as they are so minor and it is so rare they are not written up to the medical journals like many of the other diseases so again there is a loss of attention.

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Even if Companies and Labs have an interest in these types of diseases, it is just not going to get the public funding because again there are not enough people being affected from them so therefore it just does not justify the insert of money. This makes it most unfortunate for individuals that are suffering from the orphan diseases.

Perhaps the one stand that could be made is to form groups as much as possible. With the Internet, this is a lot easier than it would be otherwise. The more groups and the more voices that can be heard considering a certain disease or an orphan disease will make it go all that much faster in bringing it into the public eye. Once this happens then a lot of interest will start to surface from different interest groups that are willing to support some type of research into the problems.


by Thomas B. Chuong