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TGen, University of New Mexico Win $2.8M NIH Grant to Study Diabetic Blindness

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) — The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the University of New Mexico (UNM) announced on Tuesday that they have received a $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate the molecular underpinnings of diabetic retinopathy, a key cause of blindness.

Phoenix-based TGen and UNM will use the funding to lead a consortium of researchers — including collaborators from Harvard University and the National Eye Institute — in using genomic sequencing to identify genes associated with diabetic retinopathy and examining proteomic changes that may characterize individual patient variations. The scientists will also investigate why some diabetic patients develop diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema — another sight-threatening complication of diabetes — and some do not, and will explore why some patients respond better to anti-vascular endothelial growth factor treatments than others.

The research will place an emphasis on Native American and Hispanic patients, who are at higher risk for developing diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, TGen noted.

"Our goal is to understand the great genetic variability of this disease, and to establish a molecular profile that can predict the severity and treatment of this disease for each patient," TGen President and study co-investigator Jeffrey Trent said in a statement.