Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common condition among the elderly population that leads to the progressive central vision loss and serious compromise of quality of life for its sufferers. It is also one of the few disorders for whom the investigation of its genetics has yielded rich insights into its diversity and causality and holds the promise of enabling clinicians to provide better risk assessments for individuals as well as to develop and selectively deploy new therapeutics to either prevent or slow the development of disease and lessen the threat of vision loss. The genetics of AMD began initially with the appreciation of familial aggregation and increase risk and expanded with the initial association of APOE variants with the disease. The first major breakthroughs came with family-based linkage studies of affected (and discordant) sibs, which identified a number of genetic loci and led to the targeted search of the 1q31 and 10q26 loci for associated variants. Three of the initial four reports for the CFH variant, Y402H, were based on regional candidate searches, as were the two initial reports of the ARMS2/HTRA1 locus variants. Case-control association studies initially also played a role in discovering the major genetic variants for AMD, and the success of those early studies have been used to fuel enthusiasm for the methodology for a number of diseases. Until 2010, all of the subsequent genetic variants associated with AMD came from candidate gene testing based on the complement factor pathway. In 2010, several large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identified genes that had not been previously identified. Much of this historical information is available in a number of recent reviews (Chen et al., 2010b; Deangelis et al., 2011; Fafowora and Gorin, 2012b; Francis and Klein, 2011; Kokotas et al., 2011). Large meta analysis of AMD GWAS has added new loci and variants to this collection (Chen et al., 2010a; Kopplin et al., 2010; Yu et al., 2011). This paper will focus on the ongoing controversies that are confronting AMD genetics at this time, rather than attempting to summarize this field, which has exploded in the past 5 years.
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