Research for eye diseases
According to researchers at the University of Missouri and UC Davis, mutations in the cat genome correlate to two human eye diseases. The project — called 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Initiative — involved the sequencing and studying of the genes of 99 cats.
Researchers feel they now have a better understanding of Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, a rare, inherited eye disease that primarily affects the retina. This disease affects two or three out of 100,000 newborns, and is similar to one found in some Persian cats called autosomal recessive progressive retinal atrophy.
The second human eye disease that was studied is retinitis pigmentosa, which is found in about one out of every 4,000 Americans and causes decreased night vision and a loss of peripheral vision. The genome sequencing of a Bengal cat found a causative genetic mutation for this disease.
Researchers feel that both discoveries can ultimately lead to a better understanding of the biological pathways associated with the diseases — and ultimately to diagnostic and screening tests that may help improve treatment.