Fight for Sight researchers to investigate what chromosomes are responsible for leading cause of blindness

04 May 21

written by:

Róisín Treacy

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A chromosome

Fight for Sight, with the support of ICAP, is funding research to identify what chromosomes cause age-related macular degeneration, in the hope of ultimately finding a new treatment or cure for the condition.

Using the largest age-related macular degeneration study in existence - the international genomics AMD genetic consortium – researchers at the University of Aberdeen will compare the abundance of chromosomes in the immune cells of people with macular degeneration with those in healthy people to establish if there is a pattern. If so, changes in these genes could be used to find out who is at risk of developing the condition and whose sight might deteriorate the fastest. 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of permanent and severe sight loss in the UK – 1.2 million people have the condition in its early stages and 700,000 people UK-wide have late-stage age-related macular degeneration.

Researchers will also use a database of retinal tissue to see what impact these changes have on the way genes are regulated and ultimately on gene function. In this way they will be able to understand the impact specific gene changes have in age-related macular degeneration and therefore which treatments could be targeted to treat it. 

Dr Felix Grassmann is leading the study at University of Aberdeen. He said: 'As we get older, the information in our genes – stored in chromosomes – depletes or changes. This has a potential impact on the function of those genes. There is evidence that the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration is linked to a deterioration of chromosomes in immune cells found in the blood. This research is important because we need to understand what is going on at a genetic and molecular level in order to unlock and tailor new treatments for this sight-threatening condition.”

Interim Chief Executive at Fight for Sight, Ikram Dahman said: “We’re delighted to fund this valuable research project with the support of ICAP. At Fight for Sight we know that sight loss does not have to be inevitable and ICAP recognises the impact that they can have by supporting our revolutionary science. We look forward to learning the outcomes of Dr Grassmann's study, which could pave the way for advancements in age-related macular degeneration treatment and improve the quality of life for all people living with this devastating condition.”

Tina Christou, Group Head of CSR & Charity Day at TP ICAP plc said: “We are delighted to have supported Fight for Sight, as part of ICAP Charity Day 2019, enabling Dr Grassmann’s research as part of the ‘ICAP Global Challenge Fund’ – set up to discover potential new treatments for age-related macular degeneration, bringing hope and answers to millions of people worldwide.”

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