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Gene discovery could yield treatments for nearsightedness
Date:9/12/2010

is an antidote for the condition. "People need to go outside and look to the horizon," Young said. "Today's near work forces our eyes to constantly be in tension to focus on near objects reading papers and watching monitors. We also watch TV, work in cities with high buildings, drive in heavy traffic, and generally have fewer chances for distant views, especially in urban areas. These factors affect children with developing vision, as well as many adults."

Working with a large group of researchers, Young, co-lead author Pirro Hysi of the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology of Kings College in London, and colleagues found several distinct spellings of DNA code near the RASGRF1 gene that had a strong association with focusing errors in vision. These findings were validated in six other Caucasian adult groups in a total of 13,414 subjects.

"Because RASGRF1 is highly expressed in neurons and the retina, it is crucial to retinal function and visual memory consolidation," Young said.

When the scientists created mice that were missing the correct gene, these mice showed changes in their eye lenses.

"This was biologically convincing," Young said. "The RASGRF1 provides a novel molecular mechanism to study so that we can work to prevent the most common cause of visual impairment."

Young has also led a team that found a different gene -- CTNDD2 -- related to myopia in Chinese and Japanese populations. That work included researchers from the Duke Center for Human Genetics, the Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Graduate Medical School in Singapore, and the National University of Singapore. In many Asian countries, a majority of people have myopia.


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Contact: Mary Jane Gore
mary.gore@duke.edu
919-660-1309
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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