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50 genes help identify macular degeneration risk

The discovery of more than 50 genes that help identify macular degeneration may lead to new treatments for the disease. The study which was published in Genome Medicineexamined the differences in gene expression between normal eyes and eyes which have been affected by macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a major cause of blindness throughout the world with almost 11 million people in the United States being diagnosed with some form of the disease. The study involved researchers from the University of California - Santa Barbara, University of Utah - John Moran Eye Center and the University of Iowa. Researchers studied genes from a human donor eye repository. The top 20 genes from the more than 50 identified had the ability to "predict" a clinical diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration. It is believed that a combination of genetics as well as other high risk factors including high blood pressure, smoking history and diet all play a role in a person's likelihood of developing macular degeneration. Researchers look to focus on the genes that have been identified in order to develop new diagnostic methods and treatments for all forms of macular degeneration.*

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