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Glaucoma gene identified!

Researchers have identified a new candidate gene for the most prevalent form of glaucoma known as primary open angle glaucoma (POAG). Details are reported in the February 17 journal PL0S Genetics. This important discovery could lead to targeted treatment strategies for glaucoma which is the foremost cause of vision loss and blindness in the world. A main risk factor for POAG is elevated pressure inside the eye. This pressure is caused by an increased resistance to the flow of aqueous humor out of the eye's front chamber. Researchers identified the gene as ADAMTS10. This gene is thought to encode a protein involved in processing the extracellular matricx (ECM) which surrounds the connective and structural support tissue around cells. Evidence points to molecules within the ECM and matrix remodeling as being associated with aqueous outflow resistance. In addition, the gene is highly expressed in the trabecular meshwork which is the specialized filtration tissue through which aqueous humor passes which also points to the gene's role in regulating aqueous humor outflow. While it is known that aqueous outflow is hindered in POAG, it is not known how the outflow normally works and how to fix the hindered flow. If this gene is truly responsible for aqueous outflow regulation then researchers can start looking at it or its molecular partners as possible sources of therapies.* Elise Ervin Staff Writer

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