Glaucoma is a dreaded eye problem where the eyes can not drain properly and the patient becomes blind because of too much fluid pressure. There are many different types of glaucoma, but one of the most common is called congenital glaucoma. That means this kind of glaucoma is passed on through your genes. Would not it be great if some sort of glaucoma identity kit was devised to see if you or your children carried this particular gene before you started to go blind?
What Is Congenital Glaucoma?
Congenital glaucoma is a problem for young children, who often are educated to the doctor or ophthalmologist when it's too late. Although some children can be diagnosed as newborns, as many as 15% of babies with congenital glaucoma go undiagnosed, according to some studies done in America. When the symptoms develop, they often go blind in both eyes 75% of the time. For some unknown reason, boys are more affected than girls.
Discovery In 1997
The first step in developing such a glaucoma identity kit is discovering the specific gene that causes congenital glaucoma. Considering how many genes and gene combinations a person carries, it's easier to find a needle in a haystack. But in March of 1997, University of Connecticut Health Center's research scientist, Mansoor Sarfarazi, Ph. D, found the needle.
The studies were mostly funded by a company called InSite Vision, which was hoping to use the discovery of the gene to develop profitable glaucoma diagnostic tools. Unfortunately, these things take time. InSite, in cooperation with an Italian company, did plan to test a product called OcuGene in Italy in 2002. Its technical name was ISV-900. It Disappeared into Obscurity after 2003. In 2007, InSite Viiosn announced in court papers that "Our marketing and sales efforts related to OcuGene glaucoma genetic test have been significantly curtailed."
No glaucoma identity kit of any kind is currently listed in the company's products, not even for clinical development. It is unknown how long InSite will own the exclusive rights to the University of Connecticut Health Center's research to allow other companies the chance of developing a diagnostic kit.
Seeing Into The Future
The mention of ISV-900 probably makes anyone at InSite Vision shudder. There was a terrible court battle with those same Italian companies with a lot of the details being hushed. As of 2008, no medical supply company or pharmaceutical giant has been able to develop such a diagnostic tool so far. Despite the fact that there are a lot of children who get glaucoma, apparently not enough of them go blind or they are not from families rich enough to mount any kind of legal protest.
Perhaps in the future, pharmaceutical companies will concentrate on what's best for people's health rather than what's best for their shareholders.