The Glaucoma Foundation has New Focus on Exfoliation Syndrome

Jun 27, 2013, 08:46 ET from The Glaucoma Foundation

NEW YORK, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Since its founding by Dr. Robert Ritch in 1984, The Glaucoma Foundation (TGF) has been funding groundbreaking glaucoma research, primarily in the areas of neuroprotection and genetics, providing a platform for large research projects now led by the National Institutes of Health as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

Now The Glaucoma Foundation has sharpened its focus on finding a cure for exfoliation syndrome (XFS), the leading identifiable cause of open-angle glaucoma worldwide and the most important cause of complications during routine cataract surgery.

"TGF believes that it is time to direct our research efforts toward curing the various glaucomas, with the present focus on exfoliation syndrome," says TGF president Scott Christensen. "All our efforts, including our prestigious Annual Think Tank and our research grant program, will be consistent with that goal."

Exfoliation syndrome is an age-related systemic disease characterized by the production and accumulation of a whitish material in many ocular as well as non-ocular tissues. Some 80 million people worldwide have the disorder.

The precise pathogenesis of XFS remains unknown.  But, says Dr. Ritch, TGF's Medical Director and Think Tank organizer, "we feel that the time is right and the technology available to begin to consider reversing the formation of exfoliation material, ameliorating the clinical manifestations, and eventually achieving a cure."

About 25 percent of persons with XFS develop elevated IOP and one-third of these develop glaucoma.  If you have XFS, your chances of developing glaucoma are about six times higher than if you don't. And the prognosis of exfoliation glaucoma is more severe than that of primary open-angle glaucoma.  An increasing list of associations with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases makes XFS a condition of general medical importance.  Recently ascribed associations include stroke, cardiovascular dysfunction, Alzheimer's disease and hearing loss.

In 2007 scientists identified genetic variants in the lysyl oxidase-like 1 (LOXL1) gene that have been strongly associated with XFS. While they do not alone cause XFS, this discovery is expected to make a major impact not only in understanding XFS, but also in leading to new avenues of therapy. In addition, there is an improved understanding of the biochemistry of the disorder and tissue culture models are available for study in the laboratory.

"The confluence of these factors and the fact that TGF's leadership includes renowned experts in this field uniquely positions The Glaucoma Foundation for this most ambitious project," says Mr. Christensen. "We are very excited about this journey to a cure."

The Glaucoma Foundation (TGF) is a premier not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing a cure for glaucoma through innovative research and collaboration. Information about TGF's research grant program can be found on its website

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SOURCE The Glaucoma Foundation