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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.

 


 

REGENXBIO Announces New License Agreement with Pfizer for the Treatment of Friedreich's Ataxia Using NAV® AAV9 Vector

ROCKVILLE, Md., July 31, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- REGENXBIO Inc. (Nasdaq: RGNX), a leading clinical-stage biotechnology company seeking to improve lives through the curative potential of gene therapy based on its proprietary NAV Technology Platform, today announced it entered into a license agreement with Pfizer Inc.

Under the terms of the agreement, REGENXBIO has granted Pfizer a non-exclusive worldwide license, with rights to sublicense, to REGENXBIO's NAV AAV9 vector for the development and commercialization of gene therapies for the treatment of Friedreich's ataxia, the most common hereditary ataxia. In return for these rights, REGENXBIO will receive an upfront payment, and has the potential to receive ongoing fees, development and commercial milestone payments, and royalties on net sales of products incorporating the licensed intellectual property.

Read the entire article HERE

Molecular Mechanisms and Therapeutics for the GAA·TTC Expansion Disease Friedreich Ataxia

Friedreich ataxia (FA), the most common inherited ataxia, is caused by transcriptional silencing of the nuclear FXN gene, encoding the essential mitochondrial protein frataxin. Currently, there is no approved therapy for this fatal disorder. Gene silencing in FA is due to hyperexpansion of the triplet repeat sequence GAA·TTC in the first intron of the FXN gene, which results in chromatin histone modifications consistent with heterochromatin formation. Frataxin is involved in mitochondrial iron homeostasis and the assembly and transfer of iron-sulfur clusters to various mitochondrial enzymes and components of the electron transport chain. Frataxin insufficiency leads to progressive spinocerebellar neurodegeneration, causing symptoms of gait and limb ataxia, slurred speech, muscle weakness, sensory loss, and cardiomyopathy in many patients that may cause death in early adulthood. Numerous approaches are being taken to find a treatment for FA, including excision or correction of the repeats by genome engineering methods, gene activation with small molecules or artificial transcription factors, delivery of frataxin to affected cells by protein replacement therapy, gene therapy, or small molecules to increase frataxin protein levels, and therapies aimed at countering the cellular consequences of reduced frataxin. This review will summarize the mechanisms involved in repeat-mediated gene silencing and recent efforts aimed at development of therapeutics.

Read the entire article HERE

New developments in pharmacotherapy for Friedreich ataxia

Current and emerging therapies for Friedrich's Ataxia (FA) focus on reversing the deleterious effects of such deficiency including mitochondrial augmentation and increasing frataxin levels, providing the possibility of treatment options for this physiologically complex, multisystem disorder. In this review article, the authors discuss the current and prior in vivo and in vitro research studies related to the treatment of FA, with a particular interest in future implications of each therapy. Since the discovery of FXN in 1996, multiple clinical trials have occurred or are currently occurring; at a rapid pace for a rare disease. These trials have been directed at the augmentation of mitochondrial function and/or alleviation of symptoms and are not regarded as potential cures in FA. Either a combination of therapies or a drug that replaces or increases the pathologically low levels of frataxin better represent potential cures in FA.

Read the entire article HERE

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

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