Genetic Breakthrough May Offer Blindness Cure

Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy, otherwise known as FEVR is an inherited disease that causes the blood vessels in the retina do not fully develop.  Researchers studying this disease found that a specific gene, known as TSPAN 12, is at fault by disrupting cell signals as the blood vessels develop in the back of the eye.

What makes their finding so important is that by screening family members to see if they have a TSPAN 12 gene mutation, they may be able to eliminate any chance of blindness in the affected person before the disease has a stronghold.  The gene can lie dormant in family members of those who are affected by the disease and if doctors can establish that the gene has mutated and been passed along, they can perform surgery before any retinal damage has occurred.

While these findings will immediately aid in helping those who suffer from FEVR, it will also broaden the understanding of how other genetic diseases affect blindness.  With gene science becoming increasingly more advanced, research like this could mean that someday soon, doctors will know exactly what gene is causing a certain blindness disorder and will be able to treat it effectively without the patient’s sight ever being compromised.

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