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FARAFARA Cure FA

 

Scientific News

FARA funds research progress

In this section, you will find the most recent FA research publications, many of which are funded by FARA, as well as information on upcoming conferences and symposiums. You can search for articles by date using the archive box in the right hand column. To locate FARA Funded or Supported Research, click the hyperlink in the right hand column. You may also search for specific content using key words or phrases in the search button at the top right of your screen. Please be sure to visit other key research sections of our website for information on FARA’s Grant Program and the Treatment Pipeline.

 


 

The current state of biomarker research for Friedreich's ataxia: a report from the 2018 FARA biomarker meeting

The 2018 FARA Biomarker Meeting highlighted the current state of development of biomarkers for Friedreich's ataxia. A mass spectroscopy assay to sensitively measure mature frataxin (reduction of which is the root cause of disease) is being developed. Biomarkers to monitor neurological disease progression include imaging, electrophysiological measures and measures of nerve function, which may be measured either in serum and/or through imaging-based technologies. Potential pharmacodynamic biomarkers include metabolic and protein biomarkers and markers of nerve damage. Cardiac imaging and serum biomarkers may reflect cardiac disease progression. Considerable progress has been made in the development of biomarkers for various contexts of use, but further work is needed in terms of larger longitudinal multisite studies, and identification of novel biomarkers for additional use cases.

Read the entire article HERE

Correlation between frataxin expression and contractility revealed by in vitro Friedreich's ataxia cardiac tissue models engineered from human pluripotent stem cells

This paper describes the generation of species-specific, functional in vitro experimental models of FA using 2-dimensional (2D) and 3-dimensional (3D) engineered cardiac tissues from FXN-deficient human pluripotent stem cell-derived ventricular cardiomyocytes (hPSC-hvCMs). FXN-deficient hvCTS displayed attenuated developed forces (by 70-80%) compared to healthy controls. High-resolution optical mapping of hvCAS with reduced FXN expression also revealed electrophysiological defects consistent with clinical observations, including action potential duration prolongation and maximum capture frequency reduction. Interestingly, a clear positive correlation between FXN expression and contractility was observed (ρ > 0.9), and restoration of FXN protein levels by lentiviral transduction rescued contractility defects in FXN-deficient hvCTS. The authors conclude that these human-based in vitro cardiac tissue models of FA provide a translational, disease-relevant biomimetic platform for the evaluation of novel therapeutics and to provide insight into FA disease progression.

Read the entire article HERE

Evaluation of antibodies for western blot analysis of frataxin protein isoforms

Frataxin is the protein that is down-regulated in Friedreich ataxia (FA). There are currently no approved treatments for FA, although experimental approaches involving up-regulation or replacement of mature frataxin protein through numerous approaches are being tested. Many of the pre-clinical studies of these experimental approaches are conducted in mouse and monkey models as well as in human cell lines. Consequently, well-validated antibodies are required for use in western blot analysis to determine whether levels of various forms of frataxin have been increased. This group examined the specificity of five commercially available anti-frataxin antibodies and determined whether they detect mature frataxin in mouse heart tissue. Four protein standards of monkey, human, and mouse frataxin as well as mouse heart tissue were examined using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) in combination with western blot analysis. One antibody failed to detect any of the frataxin standards or endogenous frataxin in mouse heart tissue. Three of the antibodies detected a protein in mouse heart tissue that ran slightly faster on PAGE (at 23.4 kDa) to that predicted for full-length frataxin (23.9 kDa). One antibody detected all four frataxin standards as well as His-tagged and endogenous mouse mature frataxin in mouse tissue. Significantly, this antibody, which will be useful for monitoring mature frataxin levels in monkey, human, and mouse tissues, did not detect a protein in mouse heart tissue at 23.4 kDa. Therefore, antibodies detecting the immunoreactive protein at 23.4 kDa could be misleading when testing for the up-regulation of frataxin in animal models.

Read the entire article HERE

Frequency and Genetic Profile of Compound Heterozygous Friedreich's Ataxia Patients-the Brazilian Experience

Friedreich ataxia (FA) is caused by a GAA expansion in the first intron of the frataxin gene (FXN) in 96% of the affected individuals. The remaining patients have a GAA expansion in one allele and a point mutation in the other. Little is known about compound heterozygous patients outside Europe and North America. This group has designed a study to determine the frequency and mutational profile of these patients in Brazil. They recruited all patients with ataxia and at least one expanded GAA allele at FXN from 3 national reference centers and identified those subjects with a single expansion and completed further genetic testing. There were 143 unrelated patients (128 families), five of which had a single expanded allele. They identified point mutations in three out of these five (3/128 = 2.34%). Two patients had the c.157delC variant, whereas one individual had the novel variant c.482+1G>T. These results indicate that FXN point mutations are rare, but exist in Brazilian patients with FRDA. This has obvious implications for diagnostic testing and genetic counseling.

Read the entire article HERE

FARA Job Posting: Associate Director of Research

Click to view PDF
FARA is seeking a full time Associate Director of Research.
Please click HERE for more information.
 

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