Rare Diseases Special Interest Group 

Wilson’s Disease is now part of the Rare Diseases Special Interest Group (SIG). The SIG is linked to the Metabolic CRN topic area and the SIG Lead is Professor Aftab Ala PhD FRCP, Consultant Hepatologist, Kings College Hospital, London.

Wilson's Disease was the first SIG to be established by BASL. The Wilson’s Disease Group comprises a variety of clinical and laboratory specialists from around the UK, Public Health England and patient representation from the Wilson’s Disease Support Group. Its aims are to foster closer collaboration for clinical and scientific research, provide a forum to discuss and disseminate best practice, and act as a stimulus towards Centres of Excellence for Wilson’s Disease. Reports from meetings are available below along with presentation slides.

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1) and Haemochromatosis are 2 new sub-SIGs of the Rare Diseases SIG, read more below.

If anyone wishes to join the Rare Diseases SIG please contact the BASL Secretariat on sigs@basl.org.uk and advise which sub-SIG you are interested in joining:

  • Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
  • Haemochromatosis
  • Wilson's Disease

BASL Rare Disease SIG and Polycystic liver disease

The UK polycystic liver disease registry, which forms part of the overall international PLD registry, was launched earlier this year. This is the first major study into PLD in the UK with the aim of mapping the natural course of the disease and will hopefully lead to new insights and treatment options for patients with PLD. The study is led by Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust who are looking to expand the study to as many UK sites as possible. Alongside the registry we hope to encourage further study and collaboration for patients with ductal plate malformation disorders within the BASL Rare Diseases SIG.

More information on the UK PLD registry can be found at: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04645251 

For further information on the study or to register your interest in joining please contact the study team.

Study co-ordinator: Dr Benjamin Giles, Benjamin.giles@porthosp.nhs.uk 
Chief investigator: Dr Richard Aspinall, Richard.aspinall@porthosp.nhs.uk 

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (A1ATD) sub-SIG

An Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (A1ATD) sub-SIG is being set up under the Rare Diseases SIG. The group will be led by Dr Tamir Rashid read more below.

Several recent publications provide the evidence base for what Hepatologists have spoken about for many years:

(1) Alpha1 Antitrypsin deficiency related liver disease is massively underdiagnosed
(2) liver pathology occurs in patients with heterozygous as well as homozygous genotypes
(3) prognostic biomarkers to discriminate between patients who end up needing a liver transplant and those whose disease remains quiescent are lacking.

In parallel to these population-based studies, advances in the basic molecular understanding of Alpha1 have resulted in over 20 companies developing novel therapeutic technologies, several of which are about to enter / have already entered late-stage clinical trials.

These combined developments represent exciting times for Alpha1 medicine and patients but also necessitate Hepatologists to be armed with a new set of tools in preparation for what is likely to become a significant component to our clinical workload over the coming years.

To address this challenge, we have formed a sub-special interest group which will sit under the Rare Disease SIG, the sub-SIG’s objectives, amongst other things, will be to (1) develop a national registry of patients (2) establish guidelines for the diagnosis and management of patients and (3) facilitate multi-centre studies for identification of disease modifiers and evaluating new medicines.

It is intended this initiative will be carried out in collaboration with our Respiratory colleagues, Public Health England, existing related initiatives already running in the US and across Europe and closely informed by the needs of patients.

Please forward any expressions of interest to join the sub-SIG to the BASL Secretariat sigs@basl.org.uk or sign into the members area of the website and select Alpha-1.

References (PMID numbers):  32675199; 33632708; 30068662; 32376409; 29573137; 31121167; 32697896

Alpha-1 sub-SIG minutes

Please find attached the minutes for the Alpha-1 sub-SIG meeting 17 November 2022.

Download A1AT SIG meeting 17.11.22 minutes.pdf

Haemochromatosis sub-SIG

A Haemochromatosis sub-SIG is set up under the Rare Diseases SIG.  The group is led by Dr Jeremy Shearman (Consultant Gastroenterologist/Hepatologist at Warwick).  The main specialties involved will be gastro/hep, haematology and rheumatology. 

Haemochromatosis is not in itself a rare disease but we know that only a small fraction of those at genetic risk are currently receiving care and monitoring in UK hospitals. Care of these patients may be shared across a number of clinical specialties – hepatologists, gastroenterologists and haematologists. In recognition of the challenges presented by this condition BASL is supporting the development of a sub-Special Interest Group. This group will sit under the Rare Diseases Special Interest Group and will encompass BASL, BSG, BSH in addition to interested individuals from other relevant professional bodies and patient organisations.

Haemochromatosis sub-SIG meeting - June 2023 - March 2024

8 June 2023

Presentation slides and discussion points from the meeting: Download June 2023 SIG slides_haemochromatosis.pdf


7 March 2024

Presentation slides and discussion points from the meeting:  Download MArch 2024 SIG slides_haemchromatosis.pdf


Direct to consumer genetic tests - haemochromatosis

Please see below a consensus statement written on behalf of the Rare Disease SIG regarding the increasing use of direct to consumer genetic tests and the reporting of HFE mutations in particular. This follows the SIG meeting held in June 2023.

(Agenda item 3) >  Download Direct to consumer genetic test-statement_July23.pdf

A link to the BMJ article can found > Here

Obituary – Dr John Walshe – Wilson's Disease

The BASL community will be sorry to hear of the recent passing of Dr John Walshe, aged 102 years. He transformed the lives of patients with Wilson’s disease.

Read a short obituary here:  Download Dr John Walshe.pdf

Wilson's Disease – Guidelines

BASL Investigation and management of Wilson's Disease full guidance:

Download Investigation and management of WD full guidance_Apr 22.pdf

Published in Lancet Global Health (who are happy for the article to be made accessible via society websites), view website here and the (abridged) Lancet publication below:

Download Lancet GH investigation and management of WD_Apr 22.pdf

Wilson's Disease – Resources

Wilson Disease NHSE Specialist Centre expertise - 16.11.2020

Download Wilson Disease NHSE Specialist Centre expertise Nov 2020.pdf

Wilson's Disease Standards Document - 31.03.20 

Download WD SIG Standards.pdf

Wilson's Disease Support Group UK - the WDSG-UK provides patient representation on the SIG. It is an all volunteer organisation, which strives to promote the well-being of patients with Wilson's Disease, and their families and friends. Visit the group's website at http://www.wilsonsdisease.org.uk .

Download Trientine Formulations in the UK (2020).pdf

Presentation on New trientine formulations - Rupert Purchase - University of Sussex, Brighton:

Download WD-SIG trientine slides v3.pdf

Presentation on NHSE genomic medicine service  - Miranda Durkie, Lead Clinical Scientist in Gastrohepatology, Yorkshire & North East GLH – Sheffield:

Download NHSE genomic medicine service.pdf

Shared care guideline for trientine

Download Shared care guideline for trientine Cambridge-Eastern.pdf

Wilson's Disease Meetings 2022 – Reports

Meeting 25 November 2022

Meeting minutes –  Download WD SIG 25.11.22 minutes.pdf

Presentation –  Download Wilsons disease clinical trials BASL SIG_Aftab Ala.pdf

Presentation –  Download Highlights of AASLD (1) BASL.pdf


Meeting 24 November 2023

Meeting notes:  Download 24 11 BASL Wilsons SIG - London notes.pdf


Wilson's Disease Meetings 2017–2021 – Reports

Meeting Reports

Meeting 1 - 14 December 2017

Meeting report - Download BASL Wilson SIG Meeting 14 Dec 2017 Report1.pdf

Meeting 2 - 14 June 2018

Meeting report - Download BASL Wilson SIG meeting 14 June report.pdf

Presentation on Estimating national Wilson’s disease prevalence rates: Exploring the utility of clinical and routinely collected data, Jeanette Aston, PHE -  Download MB JA BASL Wilsons SIG meeting 20180614.pdf

Presentation on DNA/RNA therapies for Wilson’s Disease, Julien Baruteau, UCL - Download Baruteau_Gene therapy for Wilson.2.pdf

Presentation on biochemical monitoring, Paul Cook, University Hospital Southampton -  Download Biochemical monitoring.pdf

Presentation on measurement techniques, Chris Harrington, SAS Trace Element Laboratory, Guildford -  Download BASL-June 2018-web.pdf

Presentation on Wilson’s Disease in children, Professor Deirdre Kelly, Dr Indra van Mourik and Carla Lloyd, Birmingham Women’s & Children’s Hospital -    Download Wilsons Disease in children.pdf

Presentation on paediatric specific issues for Wilson's Disease screening and monitoring, Dr Indra van Mourik, Birmingham Women’s & Children’s Hospital -  Download Paediatric specific issues for Wilsons Disease screening and monitoring.pdf

Meeting 3 - 14 February 2019

Meeting report - Download Wilsons Disease SIG meeting 14.2.19 minutes.pdf.

Meeting 4 - 29 November 2019

Meeting report -  Download Wilson SIG meeting 29.11.19 minutes_FINAL.pdf.

Meeting 5 - 20 November 2020

Meeting Report -   Download WD SIG 20 11 20 meeting minutes.pdf

Meeting 6 - 19 November 2021

Meeting Report -  Download WD SIG 19.11.21 meeting minutes.pdf

Annual reports

Download Annual report_2017-18_Wilsons Disease SIG.pdf

Download Annual report_2018-19_Wilsons Disease SIG.pdf

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