Scientists have discovered links between certain genes and a number of illnesses, including kidney disease and macular degeneration, a progressive eye disease that can result in blindness.
The Columbia University researchers found five regions in the human genome that increase susceptibility to immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy, which is a major cause of kidney failure worldwide.
They also found that some of the genes implicated in the study play a role in other immune disorders, like macular degeneration.
Principal investigator of the study Dr Ali Gharavi, from the division of nephrology at Columbia University, said the research maps the way "for further study that may reveal practical targets for diagnosis and treatment".
In similar research published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology revealed that the number of people facing blindness due to age-related macular degeneration will increase by one quarter by 2020.
The College of Optometrists found that only half of adults in the country are aware that the condition exists.
by Alexa Kaczka