Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Goncalo Abecasis, the Felix Moore Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics at SPH, and SPH researcher Lars Fritsche are members of a groundbreaking international team who recently discovered seven new genetic markers associated with increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). An estimated two million Americans who have AMD—which affects a region of the retina responsible for central vision—are at risk for blindness.

An estimated two million Americans who have AMD—which affects a region of the retina responsible for central vision—are at risk for blindness.

The study, funded by the National Eye Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, brings hope to patients and scientists alike, who may be able to better understand and target those who reach the most severe stages of the disorder. “The current study broadens our understanding of disease biology and provides many new targets for intervention,” says Fritsche.

“It is exciting to think that detailed analysis of these candidates will lead to the development of new treatments for this debilitating disease.”

For more, see Seven genetic risk factors found to be associated with common eye disorder.

Laurel Thomas

What's Joy Got to do with It?

Reports suggest that joyfulness and other positive emotions can have a profound impact on life satisfaction and health as we age, although it’s sometimes hard to separate cause and effect.

Gerontologists suspect these traits have strong genetic components. Through the Sardinia Project, an ongoing research collaboration between the U.S. National Institute on Aging and the Italian Research Council, SPH biostatistician Goncalo Abecasis and colleagues are attempting to identify the genes that underlie such personality traits as extroversion, openness to experience, and agreeableness. Abecasis says that once researchers succeed in identifying those genetic variants that specifically modulate personality, they’ll be able to track individuals who possess those variants and disentangle the health consequences of personality traits.