Fight for Sight has announced a breakthrough in identifying new genes in age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness.

Published in Clinical Epigenetics, the research has identified new genes linked to the development of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the UK.

The research team, led by Dr Louise Porter at the University of Liverpool, have identified genes that may represent new targets for the development of treatments, which is fantastic news for patients of the disorder as currently there is no available treatment for 85% of people with the common ‘dry’ from of the disease.

Researchers used cells from 44 human donor eyes to profile the levels of DNA methylation – a chemical change that may be influenced by sex, age, smoking and diet - and looked at the underlying gene changes in age-related macular degeneration. In doing so they were able to identify changes in specific genes that were not previously known to be linked to the condition.

Fight for Sight-funded researcher and lead author, Dr Louise Porter, from the University of Liverpool, said: “Our main aim for conducting this research was to help tackle an area of unmet clinical need. This work has identified new genes, providing us with novel targets for investigation in a disease in desperate need for therapies.”

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the UK and currently affects 600,000 people, however the cause is still unknown.