Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Breakthrough by MUHC researcher has major implications for diagnosis, treatment of childhood blindness

04.10.2006
Eye Health Month is off to an exciting start, with the recent announcement by MUHC researcher Dr. Robert Koenekoop and his colleagues of a breakthrough discovery in the genetics of childhood blindness. The new study identified the gene most often responsible for LCA (Leber Congenital Amaurosis), the commonest form of congenital blindness.

"This discovery represents a significant advance in the fight against this debilitating condition." says Dr. Koenekoop, Director of the McGill Ocular Genetics Centre at the MUHC and Associate Professor in Ophthalmology, Human Genetics at McGill University. He is also principal co-investigator of this study with Dr. Anneke den Hollander, and Dr. Frans Cremers from The University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

LCA causes blindness from birth or during the first few months of life. About 600 patients with LCA are currently being diagnosed and managed at the McGill Ocular Genetics Center of the MUHC, directed by Dr. Koenekoop. The disorder affects 1 in 30,000 newborns, and is currently incurable. "This is about to change, however," says Dr. Koenekoop. "Our discovery has major implications for improved screening. It also opens avenues for treatment of LCA."

Discovery of the CEP290 gene and a single mutation found in 20 percent of LCA patients will significantly speed up the genetic testing process for blind children. From a therapeutic viewpoint, this discovery adds another pathway for possible therapeutic manipulation and paves the way for a human gene replacement trial of a related LCA gene (RPE65) in early 2007. If this trial is successful, gene replacement therapy may not be far off.

Prior to Dr. Koenekoop's discovery, LCA had been linked to mutations in eight genes. Together, these mutations account for about 45 percent of cases. By studying members of a Quebec family affected by LCA, Dr. Koenekoop's team, which includes research associate and molecular biologist Dr. Irma Lopez, was able to identify a mutation in a gene known as CEP290. This mutation was detected in 21 percent of unrelated cases - making it one of the most common causes of LCA yet identified. The team's research, which was funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada, was published in the September 2006 issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics.

"The Foundation Fighting Blindness is dedicated to funding the best research in Canada and Dr. Koenekoop's new gene discovery proves that," says Sharon Colle, National Executive Director. "We believe that childhood blindness is intolerable and that cures really are in sight." The MUHC, in collaboration with Dr. Anneke den Hollander and Dr. Frans Cremers from the University of Nijmegen, will continue research into LCA, conducting functional studies of the CEP290 gene and screening more patients for CEP290 mutations.

Quebec is the perfect place to study genetic diseases like LCA. Quebec's population of approximately 6 million is known as a "founder population" because it can be traced back to a small number (approximately 250) of forefathers. This small gene pool provides the ideal population for the study of genetic disease. "Genetic diseases like LCA are more common in founder populations," says Dr. Koenekoop. "Our patients are enthusiastic about participating in these studies. They realize this research may ultimately lead to improved diagnosis, treatments and cures."

The Montreal Children's Hospital is the pediatric teaching hospital of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). The institution is a leader in the care and treatment of sick infants, children, and adolescents from across Quebec. The Montreal Children's Hospital provides a high level and broad scope of health care services, and provides ultra specialized care in many fields including: cardiology and cardiac surgery; neurology and neurosurgery, traumatology; genetic research; psychiatry and child development and musculoskeletal conditions, including orthopedics and rheumatology. Fully bilingual and multicultural, the institution respectfully serves an increasingly diverse community in more than 50 languages.

The McGill University Health Centre is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University--the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

Ian Popple | MUHC
Further information:
http://www.muhc.mcgill.ca
http://www.thechildren.com

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia

nachricht New type of blood cells work as indicators of autoimmunity
14.08.2017 | Instituto de Medicina Molecular

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>