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Scientists have identified a protein which is strongly linked age-related macular degeneration, the commonest cause of blindness in developed countries. Pixabay

An international team of scientists has identified a protein which is strongly linked age-related macular degeneration, the commonest cause of blindness in developed countries.

The protein, called FHR4, was found by the team to be present at higher levels in the blood of patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) compared to individuals of a similar age without the disease, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.


“So apart from improving understanding of how AMD is caused, this work provides a way of predicting risk of the disease by simply measuring blood levels of FHR4,” said one of the researchers Paul Bishop, Professor at University of Manchester in Britain.

“It also provides a new route to treatment by reducing the blood levels of FHR4 to restore immune system function in the eyes,” he added.


The protein, called FHR4 activates part of the immune system called the complement system that may lead to blindness. Pixabay

The findings were confirmed in 484 patient and 522 control samples from two independent collections across Europe. Analyses of eyes donated for research after life also revealed the FHR4 protein was present in the AMD-affected parts of the eye.

The protein was shown by the team to activate part of the immune system called the complement system. Over activation is a major causal factor of AMD. FHR4 is one of a group of proteins that regulate the complement system and the genes encoding these proteins are tightly clustered on chromosome 1, the largest human chromosome.

When the team investigated a set of genetic variants across the human genome, they found that genetic variants in this region on chromosome 1 determined the levels of FHR4 in the blood. And they found that the same genetic variants were associated with AMD.

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“The combined protein and genetic findings provide compelling evidence that FHR4 is a critical controller of that part of the immune system which affects the eyes,” Bishop said.

“We have shown that genetically determined higher blood FHR4 levels leads to more FHR4 in the eye which in turn increases the risk of the uncontrolled immune system response that drives the disease,” he added. (IANS)


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Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.

On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.

Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.

Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).

Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.

India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.

He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.

Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.

The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.

Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.

(IANS/HP)