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Genes Involved In Inflammation May Hold Clue To Age-related Macular Degeneration

Date:
March 4, 2008
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
Scientists have identified a new genetic risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a major cause of untreatable blindness in elderly people in developed countries. AMD is a progressive disease affecting the retinal pigment in the macular region at the back of the eye. Building on previous research, which showed that genes that control inflammation were important for developing AMD, the researchers took DNA samples from 478 people with AMD and from 555 people with no signs of the disease. They then looked for evidence of variations in genes controlling the production and suppression of cytokines - powerful chemicals involved in inflammatory processes in the body.

A University of Southampton research team, led by Professor Andrew Lotery, has identified a new genetic risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a major cause of untreatable blindness in elderly people in developed countries.

AMD is a progressive disease affecting the retinal pigment in the macular region at the back of the eye. Building on their previous research, which showed that genes that control inflammation were important for developing AMD, the researchers took DNA samples from 478 people with AMD and from 555 people with no signs of the disease. They then looked for evidence of variations in genes controlling the production and suppression of cytokines - powerful chemicals involved in inflammatory processes in the body.

Their work paid off when they identified that one of the genetic variants (251A/T), which is associated with a gene that boosts the production of interleukin 8 (known as IL-8), was significantly more common among the patients with AMD. This held true even after taking account of age, sex, weight, and smoking, which is a known risk factor for AMD.

'This is exciting research which helps us understand why people develop AMD,' says Professor Lotery. 'In the future we may be able to target patients with this genetic risk factor for specific anti-inflammatory treatments, maybe with something as simple as aspirin! This knowledge should allow us to get much better treatment results.'

Professor Lotery's research has been supported by the University of Southampton and the Gift of Sight appeal. He adds: 'I would like to thank everyone who has made a donation to this very worthwhile cause.'

If repeated in larger studies, Professor Lotery and his colleagues suggest that their findings might lead to the possibility of genetic screening for AMD and the development of biological agents to control it.

The paper 'Interleukin-B promoter polymorphism - 251A/T is a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration' is published online, ahead of print, by the British Journal of Ophthalmology. Br J Ophthalmol 2008; doi: 10.1136/bjo.2007.123190


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The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "Genes Involved In Inflammation May Hold Clue To Age-related Macular Degeneration." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080229140218.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2008, March 4). Genes Involved In Inflammation May Hold Clue To Age-related Macular Degeneration. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080229140218.htm
University of Southampton. "Genes Involved In Inflammation May Hold Clue To Age-related Macular Degeneration." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080229140218.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

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