Researchers begin 'Project 3000,' a recipe for hope through genetic research

If there were a recipe for helping the millions of Americans whose eyesight is diminished by dozens of genetically determined diseases, it might look like this:

Recipe for hope through genetic research:

  • Take just one sight-robbing disease that affects about 3,000 Americans.

  • Add a generous helping of effort to identify all 3,000 individuals, an effort led by prominent figures from Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

  • Add a full measure of world-class genetic research.

  • Heat and stir until the genetic causes are understood and a cure developed.

Repeat the recipe for dozens of other sight-robbing diseases, and you have the University of Iowa's "Project 3000," whose first objective is to identify all 3,000 U.S. men, women and children who have LCA (Leber's Congenital Amaurosis).

Along the way, Project 3000 will become the first program of its kind to offer genetic testing for any eye disease to every affected person in the country.

According to Dr. Edwin Stone, Seamans-Hauser Chair in Molecular Ophthalmology at the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, Project 3000 likely will achieve its first objective and become the "blueprint" recipe for attacking dozens of other sight-robbing diseases.

Based at the UI Carver College of Medicine, Project 3000 will offer state-of-the-art genetic testing to identify individuals on a nonprofit basis through the John and Marcia Carver Nonprofit Genetic Testing Laboratory. For families who lack health insurance, philanthropic donations will be available to help reduce the cost of the tests.

LCA is an inherited form of blindness that usually becomes apparent shortly after birth. At least nine different genes are currently known to cause about 65 percent of all cases. The discovery of the genes that cause LCA and the availability of useful tests for disea

Contact: Gary Galluzzo
University of Iowa

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