Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cornea gene discovery reveals why humans see clearly

Date:
December 19, 2011
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
A new study has identified a gene that plays a major role in maintaining clarity of the cornea in humans and mice -- and could possibly be used as gene therapy to treat diseases that cause blindness.

A transparent cornea is essential for vision, which is why the eye has evolved to nourish the cornea without blood vessels. But for millions of people around the world, diseases of the eye or trauma spur the growth of blood vessels and can cause blindness.

A new Northwestern Medicine study has identified a gene that plays a major role in maintaining clarity of the cornea in humans and mice -- and could possibly be used as gene therapy to treat diseases that cause blindness. The paper is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We believe we've discovered the master regulator gene that prevents the formation of blood vessels in the eye and protects the clarity of the cornea," said lead author Tsutomu Kume, associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a researcher at Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute.

The existence of the gene, FoxC1, was previously known, but its role in maintaining a clear cornea is a new finding. Working with a special breed of mice that are missing this gene, Kume and colleagues found abnormal vascular formations, or blood vessels, streaking their corneas and blocking light.

When Kume discovered the corneal blood vessels in the mutant mice, he called a collaborator at the University of Alberta in Canada, Ordan Lehmann, MD, professor of ophthalmology and medical genetics.

Lehmann found that his patients who have a single copy of this mutated FoxC1 gene -- and who have congenital glaucoma -- also have abnormal blood vessel growth in their eyes.

"The exciting thing is by showing the loss of FoxC1 causes vascularization of the cornea, it means increasing levels of the gene might help prevent the abnormal growth of blood vessels, potentially in multiple eye disorders that cause blindness," said Lehmann, a coauthor on the paper. "That's the hope." One possible use might be in corneal transplants, he said, where the growth of new blood vessels onto the transplanted cornea is a major problem.

Kume next plans to test the gene therapy in mice to see if injecting FoxC1 inhibits the formation of blood vessels in the cornea.

The research is funded by National Institutes of Health and Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. The original article was written by Marla Paul. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Seo, H. P. Singh, P. M. Lacal, A. Sasman, A. Fatima, T. Liu, K. M. Schultz, D. W. Losordo, O. J. Lehmann, T. Kume. Forkhead box transcription factor FoxC1 preserves corneal transparency by regulating vascular growth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1109540109

Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Cornea gene discovery reveals why humans see clearly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111212153121.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2011, December 19). Cornea gene discovery reveals why humans see clearly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111212153121.htm
Northwestern University. "Cornea gene discovery reveals why humans see clearly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111212153121.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins