A team of international scientists has identified 13 new genetic factors linked to the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which widen the understanding of the biological processes that leads to the condition. It is believed that the discovery could also serve as therapeutic targets for potential drug development.
The study, which was led by the International AMD Genomics Consortium, consisted of over 43,000 people and identified 13 new regions of the genome loci that influence the risk of AMD. Combined, this takes the worldwide total of the number of known loci to 34.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Genetics. Researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London’s (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology were, together, one of 26 centres globally that contributed to the International AMD Genomics Consortium.
In partnership, the consortium collected and analysed genetic data from 43,566 people of predominantly European ancestry, including 23,000 participants with AMD.
A principal investigator on the study at Moorfields and UCL, Professor John Yates, said: “Thanks to researchers from around the world pooling their resources and working together, exciting progress has been made in our understanding of the role of genetic factors in AMD.
“Identifying genetic variants that influence the risk of being affected by AMD helps us understand the causes of this serious condition and could contribute to the development of new treatments.”
However, the variants identified by the consortium cannot account for all of the heritability of AMD, said Grace Shen, a group leader and director of the retinal diseases programme at the National Eye Institute.