Scientists Find Genes Linked To Blindness

Singapore scientists have identified three new genes associated with Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in Chinese people.

AsianScientist (Sep. 4, 2012) – Singapore scientists have identified three new genes associated with Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma (PACG), a leading cause of blindness in Chinese people. PACG affects 15 million people worldwide, 80 percent of whom live in Asia.

The discovery, published recently in the journal Nature Genetics, was a collaboration by scientists from the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI), Singapore National Eye Center (SNEC), Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), National University of Singapore (NUS), National University Hospital’s Department of Ophthalmology, and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

The team of scientists led an international consortium that carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 1,854 PACG cases and 9,608 controls of over five sample collections in Asia. They performed validation experiments in another 1,917 PACG cases and 8,943 controls collected from a further six sample collections from around the world.

A total of 1,293 Singaporeans with PACG and 8,025 Singaporean controls were enrolled in this study.

This work is the first to study PACG genetics using a genome-wide perspective, and confirms the long-standing hypothesis of project leader Professor Aung Tin that the disease is strongly hereditary.

“This is a landmark finding, and may potentially change how we view PACG as a disease with genetic links,” said Prof Wong Tien Yin, Executive Director at SERI and Provost’s Chair Professor and Head, Department of Ophthalmology, NUHS.

“Because this disease is more common in Asians than in the Western populations, such studies will not be done in the U.S. or Europe. This study has to be done in Asia as it is a disease with more implication for Asians.”

The article can be found at: Vithana EN et al. (2012) Genome-wide association analyses identify three new susceptibility loci for primary angle closure glaucoma.


Source: SERI; Photo: starbooze/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist