• National Eye Institute

    The National Eye Institute and the Department of Biotechnology in India are jointly funding research into genetic risk factors and traits associated with glaucoma to improve screening, prevention and treatment strategies.

    Researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) and the Vision Research Foundation at Sankara Nethralaya eye hospital will receive more than $1.3 million in grants over a 3-year period.

    The group in India will conduct clinical evaluations and comprehensive eye exams for approximately 400 individuals from 30 related families in southern India, looking for glaucoma risk factors. They will also collect DNA samples for testing.

    The U.S. based team will then analyze the samples, using whole genome sequencing, to elucidate possible genetic causes of glaucoma symptoms.

    “This study should give us a great opportunity to identify specific genes and gene variants underlying these quantitative traits,” said Janey Wiggs, MD, PhD, associate director of the Ocular Genomics Institute at MEE.

    Dr. Wiggs’ team will also use the data to create the first-ever glaucoma phenome-wide association study to compare the association of specific genetic variants with a variety of clinical traits.

    “The only treatment for glaucoma is to lower intraocular pressure, which is the only modifiable risk factor at the moment,” said Dr. Wiggs. “The more we know about the genes that contribute to glaucoma, the better our chances in identifying therapeutic targets.”