Genetics to be used in fight against eye diseases

There are some 6,000 known single-gene diseases so far in the world, one tenth of which are related with the eye. This can be prevented through genetic technologies.

There are some 6,000 known single-gene diseases so far in the world, one tenth of which are related with the eye, medical experts said during an international optical conference in Shanghai recently.

It was also announced that a new medical alliance has been formed in the city, which will focus on genetic research in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of eye diseases. Leading domestic universities, hospitals, companies and research institutes will also play a part.

To push genetic research and the blocking of eye diseases being passed from generation to generation, the alliance announced they will offer charity in vitro fertilization services for some families with serious inherited eye diseases. 

Doctors will offer genetic screening and diagnosis on embryos to find healthy ones for transplantation, thus preventing patients delivering offspring with the disease.

“A total of 500 families will be covered by the charity program,” said Sun Xinghuai from Shanghai Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital.

Sun said the alliance will, among other things, set up a big clinical and technical platform to study the mechanism of eye diseases.

“We will also do genetic screening and prevention on eye diseases and develop intelligent tools to support diagnosis, and push the adoption of artificial intelligence in the field,” he said.

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