EU funded scientists identify myopia and new glaucoma genes

Sep 21, 2010

Collaborative research, led by King?s College in London has led to the identification of a gene associated with myopia and glaucoma.

Collaborative research, led by King's College in London has led to the identification of a gene associated with myopia in subjects from several different regions including Dutch, British and Australian subjects. The findings of the studies were published in the journal Nature Genetics. In parallel studies the international team also helped the DeCODE team in Iceland identify the glaucoma gene Caveolin.

Researchers studied over 4000 twins and identified a myopia susceptibility gene call RASGRF1. This has been replicated in over 13000 people from the UK, Australia and The Netherlands. “By identifying biological pathways causing myopia, we hope to be able to develop treatments in the future that will prevent or stop myopia progressing,” indicated the lead author of the study Dr Pirro Hysi.

The DeCODE team approached Winthrop Professor David Mackey from the University of Western Australia in a collaborative effort to use his research from the Glaucoma Inheritance Study in Tasmania (GIST) to confirm Caveolin as a major glaucoma gene. “Through understanding the pathway of this gene we hope to be able to develop new treatments for glaucoma and be able to predict those at a greater risk,” stated Prof Mackey. The GIST was one of the largest genetic studies of glaucoma in the world with more than 1700 people and their families who were enrolled during the past 16 years.

The findings of these latest studies were supported by three EU-funded projects: ENGAGE (European network for genetic and genomic epidemiology), MY_EUROPIA (European training in myopia research) and GENOMEUTWIN (Genome-wide analyses of European twin and population cohorts to identify genes in common diseases).

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