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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 Role of Iron in Friedreich's Ataxia: Insights From Studies in Human Tissues and Cellular and Animal Models

Friedreich's ataxia (FA) is a rare early-onset degenerative disease that affects both the central and peripheral nervous systems, and other tissues, mainly the heart and pancreas. This disorder progresses as a mixed sensory and cerebellar ataxia, primarily disturbing the proprioceptive pathways in the spinal cord, peripheral nerves and nuclei of the cerebellum. FA is an inherited disease caused by an insufficient amount of the nuclear-encoded mitochondrial protein frataxin, which is an essential and highly evolutionary conserved protein whose deficit results in iron metabolism dysregulation and mitochondrial dysfunction. The first experimental evidence connecting frataxin with iron homeostasis came from yeast; iron accumulates in the mitochondria of yeast with deletion of the frataxin equivalent gene. This finding was soon linked to previous observations of iron deposits in the hearts of FA patients and was later reported in animal models of the disease. Despite advances made in the understanding of FA pathophysiology, the role of iron in this disease has not yet been completely clarified. Some of the questions still unresolved include the molecular mechanisms responsible for the iron accumulation and iron-mediated toxicity. Here, we review the contribution of the cellular and animal models of FA and relevance of the studies using FA patient samples to gain knowledge about these issues. Mechanisms of mitochondrial iron overload are discussed considering the potential roles of frataxin in the major mitochondrial metabolic pathways that use iron. We also analyzed the effect of iron toxicity on neuronal degeneration in FA by reactive oxygen species (ROS)-dependent and ROS-independent mechanisms. Finally, therapeutic strategies based on the control of iron toxicity are considered.

Read the entire article HERE

Progress in understanding Friedreich's ataxia using human induced pluripotent stem cells

Neuronal and cardiac cells are primary targets of frataxin deficiency and generating models via differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) into these cell types is essential for progress towards developing therapies for FA. This review is focused on modeling FA using human iPSCs and various iPSC-differentiated cell types. The authors emphasize the importance of patient and corrected isogenic cell line pairs to minimize effects caused by biological variability between individuals.

The versatility of iPSC-derived cellular models of FA is advantageous for developing new therapeutic strategies, and rigorous testing in such models will be critical for approval of the first treatment for FA. Creating a well-characterized and diverse set of iPSC lines, including appropriate isogenic controls, will facilitate achieving this goal. Also, improvement of differentiation protocols, especially towards proprioceptive sensory neurons and organoid generation, is necessary to utilize the full potential of iPSC technology in the drug discovery process.

Read the entire article HERE

C-Path and FARA announce the launch of the FA Integrated Clinical Database

Critical Path Institute's (C-Path) Data Collaboration Center (DCC) and the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) today announced the launch of the Friedreich's Ataxia Integrated Clinical Database (FAICD). The new platform will enable collaborative research and data sharing to support the understanding of natural history, potential biomarkers and clinical endpoints, and promote research into novel clinical trial design in Friedreich's ataxia (FA). By making this data available to researchers, the organizations hope to enable the development of tools that will help design and interpret efficient clinical trials — leading to effective treatments for FA as soon as possible.

Read the entire Press Release HERE

Minoryx Therapeutics receives approval from Spanish regulatory agency to initiate Phase 2 Study in Friedreich's Ataxia

Mataró, Barcelona, Spain and Charleroi, Belgium, February 27, 2019 – Minoryx Therapeutics, a company specializing in the development of new drugs for orphan diseases, today announces that it has received approval from the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices (AEMPS) to launch a phase 2 clinical trial in Friedreich’s Ataxia with its lead candidate, MIN-102.

The company is also proud to announce the appointment of two key opinion leaders to its scientific advisory board, Dr. Massimo Pandolfo, director of the Laboratory of Experimental Neurology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and Dr. Fanny Mochel, group leader at the Brain and Spine Institute of La Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital in Paris (ICM).

Read the Minoryx Press Release HERE

Guidelines on the diagnosis and management of the progressive ataxias

The progressive ataxias are a group of rare and complicated neurological disorders, knowledge of which is often poor among healthcare professionals (HCPs). The patient support group Ataxia UK, recognising the lack of awareness of this group of conditions, has developed medical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of ataxia. Although ataxia can be a symptom of many common conditions, the focus here is on the progressive ataxias, and include hereditary ataxia (e.g. spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA)), idiopathic sporadic cerebellar ataxia, and specific neurodegenerative disorders in which ataxia is the dominant symptom (e.g. cerebellar variant of multiple systems atrophy (MSA-C)). Over 100 different disorders can lead to ataxia, so diagnosis can be challenging. Although there are no disease-modifying treatments for most of these entities, many aspects of the conditions are treatable, and their identification by HCPs is vital. The early diagnosis and management of the (currently) few reversible causes are also of paramount importance. More than 30 UK health professionals with experience in the field contributed to the guidelines, their input reflecting their respective clinical expertise in various aspects of ataxia diagnosis and management. They reviewed the published literature in their fields, and provided summaries on "best" practice, including the grading of evidence available for interventions, using the Guideline International Network (GIN) criteria, in the relevant sections.A Guideline Development Group, consisting of ataxia specialist neurologists and representatives of Ataxia UK (including patients and carers), reviewed all sections, produced recommendations with levels of evidence, and discussed modifications (where necessary) with contributors until consensus was reached. Where no specific published data existed, recommendations were based on data related to similar conditions (e.g. multiple sclerosis) and/or expert opinion. The guidelines aim to assist HCPs when caring for patients with progressive ataxia, indicate evidence-based (where it exists) and best practice, and act overall as a useful resource for clinicians involved in managing ataxic patients. They do, however, also highlight the urgent need to develop effective disease-modifying treatments, and, given the large number of recommendations based on "good practice points", emphasise the need for further research to provide evidence for effective symptomatic therapies.These guidelines are aimed predominantly at HCPs in secondary care (such as general neurologists, clinical geneticists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, etc.) who provide care for individuals with progressive ataxia and their families, and not ataxia specialists. It is a useful, practical tool to forward to HCPs at the time referrals are made for on-going care, for example in the community.

Read the entire article HERE

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