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Three New Glaucoma-Causing Genes Discovered

Update Date: Jan 13, 2016 09:53 AM EST
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A group of US research experts has discovered three new genes tied to a common type of glaucoma raising fresh hopes of advancing current efforts to combat the disease. As a result of the new discovery, the total number of gene-causing glaucoma increases to 15.

"Just in time for Glaucoma Awareness Month (January), this unprecedented analysis provides the most comprehensive genetic profile of glaucoma to date," said Dr. Paul Sieving of U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI) as quoted by Doctors Lounge.

Experts are hoping that the outcomes of the research will lead to innovative strategies and ingenuity in identifying, preventing, and treating glaucoma in the near future.

According to a National Institutes of Health press release, glaucoma is a gradual loss of vision primarily due to the damage sustained by the optic nerves. The eye disease is preventable if detected early. It is estimated that 2.7 million Americans and 60million people around the world are affected by it.

The study entailed a careful examination of DNA records of 3,853 people of European descent who have primary open angle glaucoma and another group of 33, 480 non-glaucoma patients.

The researchers showed that specific genetic variations in FOXC1, TXNRD2, and ATXN2 are linked with glaucoma as mentioned in an article by Times of India.

In a report by News Nation, FOXC1 is associated with extremely rare cases of early on-set of glaucoma. TXNRD2, on the other hand, links oxidative damage to glaucoma. Lastly, ATXN2 (especially in its mutated form) is responsible for spinocerebellar ataxia 2- a rare disorder which disrupts balance and coordination. The last gene is also implicated in glaucoma and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) but no proof exists to establish a proportional relationship between the two.

The recently published study also appeared in scientific journal Nature Genetics.

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