Genetic Studies Of A Nonhuman Primate Model For Age-Related Maculopathy
The specific aims of the project are:
1) To examine monkeys with AMD for gene differences in a particular genetic region that is associated with risk for AMD in human patients.
2) To search for changes in six other genes that seem to be related to human AMD to see if they are linked to the risk of AMD in monkeys.
3) To find other new genes in monkeys that are associated with AMD, and also with a type of macular disease that starts early in life.
Drs. Peter Francis, Martha Neuringer, and colleagues have screened a large colony of rhesus monkeys and shown that older members frequently develop signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These researchers have examined the monkey DNA to find genes 'linked' to AMD. Previously, they showed that two of the same genes that are associated with AMD in humans also are associated with the monkey form of the disease. This was the first study to show that the two species share genetic factors for a common complex disease. They will build upon these results and search for other AMD-associated genes in this monkey population.
Drs. Francis and Neuringer examined in detail one more AMD gene candidate, finding that in this case the same variation in the genetic code found in humans is not shared by rhesus monkeys. They found several other genetic variations, but did not identify any that could cause the disease. In addition, they documented a disease similar to AMD in a second species of monkey, the Japanese macaque, and are screening several genes for variations that may be linked to this disease. Drs. Francis and Neuringer hope that these accurate animal models of AMD will lead to identification of new genetic links, thus strengthening the usefulness of these animals for testing future preventative therapies.
First published on: April 15, 2009
Last modified on: April 7, 2011