SINGAPORE: Singapore scientists have identified genes for central corneal thickness (CCT) that may cause potentially blinding eye conditions. These eye conditions include glaucoma, as well as the progressive thinning of the cornea, which may eventually lead to a need for corneal transplantation.
The team is from the Singapore Eye Research Institute and the Genome Institute of Singapore, which is an institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
A*STAR has described the findings as a world first. It said they show that Singapore is well placed globally in eye and genetics research in finding causes for sight threatening conditions.
Eye doctors can use genetic analysis to better manage such patients and prevent their condition from getting worse.
The team studied 55 hospitals and research centres around the world and analysed more than 20,000 individuals in European and Asian populations.
CCT is linked to potentially blinding eye conditions such as keratoconus, a condition where the cornea progressively thins and takes on a more conical shape that may eventually require transplantation.
A*STAR said the Singapore team has had remarkable success identifying the most CCT—associated loci to date.
It identified six distinct genetic loci in two papers published in 2011 and 2012 via samples collected from Singaporean Chinese, Indians, and Malays, as well as Chinese in Beijing. However, none was found to be associated with common eye diseases like this study has now shown.
Overall, this new study identified a total of 27 associated loci, including six for the keratoconus. These observations suggest that most of the CCT—associated loci identified from populations of European descent are shared with Asian populations.
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