Genetic medicine is the focus of two presentations at today's Scientific Program of the 2010 American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) – Middle East-Africa Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO) Joint Meeting. The AAO-MEACO meeting is in session October 16 through 19 at McCormick Place, Chicago. It is the largest, most comprehensive ophthalmic education conference in the world.
Seeking Genetics-Specific Treatments for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
In the past decade ophthalmologists gained a powerful tool to control vision-damaging "wet" age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD): anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medications. Anti-VEGF drugs halt or even reverse damage in many wet AMD patients, but some do not respond as well to treatment and so suffer severe vision loss. The new field of pharmacogenetics seeks to enable doctors to individualize treatment based on the patient's genetic profile for a disease. In a collaborative effort, the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine studied whether specific genetic AMD risk factors and/or smoking influenced patients' responses to anti-VEGF treatment.
The researchers reviewed medical records of 36 people with wet AMD who participated in the Unifying Genetic Epidemiology of Macular Degeneration Study. In terms of anti-VEGF treatment, there were 12 responders whose vision improved, 18 maintainers, and 6 poor responders whose vision declined. All patients had been treated with bevacizumab (Avastin) and/or ranibizumab (Lucentis) for at least one year. None of the patients had vision loss due to cataract, geographic atrophy (advanced "dry" AMD), laser scar or retinal pigment epithelial tear. DNA analysis was done for two AMD-genetic risk factors: complement factor H (CFH) and age-related maculopathy susceptibility-2 (ARMS2) genes. Twenty-four patients had been smokers and three were current smokers. The average age was 80 years.
"Neither high risk genetic factors nor smoking history was significantly associated with patients' response to anti-VEGF therapy in our study," said Jaclyn L Kovach, MD. "However, more responders than poor responders carried at least one risk allele for ARMS2, CFH, or for both genes. Repeating this study in a larger population could bring us closer to a gene-guided therapy for wet AMD."
AMD is categorized as either "dry" or "wet." In the advanced "wet" form, abnormal new blood vessels develop under the retina that bleed or leak fluid and form scars. Advanced AMD destroys the detailed, central vision we need to recognize faces, read, drive, and enjoy daily life.
Genetic Screening Could Improve Glaucoma Care
Symptoms of glaucoma, a disease that destroys the optic nerve, can be so subtle that people often don't know they have the condition. About 4.3 million Americans have glaucoma, and doctors estimate that about half of them are unaware of it. Costs associated with treating the most common type of glaucoma now exceed $3 billion. Genetic screening could help catch glaucoma early on, so patients could be tracked and treated in time to save their sight. Janey L Wiggs, MD, PhD, of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, said genetic testing is currently able to indicate the presence of or risk for several types of glaucoma. Heredity plays a significant role in the disease.
"Blood or cheek cell samples would be collected from patients and appropriate family members, and then selected genes would be sequenced," said Dr. Wiggs. "We can identify markers for congenital glaucoma, early onset (before age 35) primary open angle glaucoma, and normal tension glaucoma, as well as several other conditions that increase glaucoma risk," she added.
Many more genetic markers may soon be available for use in screening for open angle glaucoma and other disease variants. Dr. Wiggs said the challenge will be to identify combinations of genes and/or environmental factors that will produce the most sensitive, specific screening tests.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
AAO is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 29,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at www.aao.orgContact: October 15 through 19
Mary Wade | EurekAlert!
23.03.2017 | Technische Universität München
How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences