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FARA Funded Research

Your generous support has funded all the research listed below.


For more information on FARA-funded research & scientists, please visit FARA Supported Research, Active Clinical Trials and the Featured Scientist.

Friedreich Ataxia: Multidisciplinary Clinical Care

Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is a multisystem disorder affecting 1 in 50,000-100,000 person in the United States. Traditionally viewed as a neurodegenerative disease, FRDA patients also develop cardiomyopathy, scoliosis, diabetes and other manifestation. Although it usually presents in childhood, it continues throughout life, thus requiring expertise from both pediatric and adult subspecialist in order to provide optimal management. The phenotype of FRDA is unique, giving rise to specific loss of neuronal pathways, a unique form of cardiomyopathy with early hypertrophy and later fibrosis, and diabetes incorporating components of both type I and type II disease. Vision loss, hearing loss, urinary dysfunction and depression also occur in FRDA. Many agents are reaching Phase III trials; if successful, these will provide a variety of new treatments for FRDA that will require many specialists who are not familiar with FRDA to provide clinical therapy. This review provides a summary of the diverse manifestation of FRDA, existing symptomatic therapies, and approaches for integrative care for future therapy in FRDA.

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A Focus on "Bio" in Bio-Nanoscience: The Impact of Biological Factors on Nanomaterial Interactions

Bio-nanoscience research encompasses studies on the interactions of nanomaterials with biological structures or what is commonly referred to as the biointerface. Fundamental studies on the influence of nanomaterial properties, including size, shape, composition, and charge, on the interaction with the biointerface have been central in bio-nanoscience to assess nanomaterial efficacy and safety for a range of biomedical applications. However, the state of the cells, tissues, or biological models can also influence the behavior of nanomaterials at the biointerface and their intracellular processing. Focusing on the "bio" in bio-nano, this review discusses the impact of biological properties at the cellular, tissue, and whole organism level that influences nanomaterial behavior, including cell type, cell cycle, tumor physiology, and disease states. Understanding how the biological factors can be addressed or exploited to enhance nanomaterial accumulation and uptake can guide the design of better and suitable models to improve the outcomes of materials in nanomedicine.

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Iron-sulfur cluster deficiency can be sensed by IRP2 and regulates iron homeostasis and sensitivity to ferroptosis independent of IRP1 and FBXL5

Intracellular iron levels are strictly regulated to support homeostasis and avoid iron-mediated ROS production. Loss of iron-sulfur cluster (ISC) synthesis can increase iron loading and promote cell death by ferroptosis. Iron-responsive element-binding proteins IRP1 and IRP2 posttranscriptionally regulate iron homeostasis. IRP1 binding to target mRNAs is competitively regulated by ISC occupancy. However, IRP2 is principally thought to be regulated at the protein level via E3 ubiquitin ligase FBXL5-mediated degradation. Here, we show that ISC synthesis suppression can activate IRP2 and promote ferroptosis sensitivity via a previously unidentified mechanism. At tissue-level O2 concentrations, ISC deficiency enhances IRP2 binding to target mRNAs independent of IRP1, FBXL5, and changes in IRP2 protein level. Deletion of both IRP1 and IRP2 abolishes the iron-starvation response, preventing its activation by ISC synthesis inhibition. These findings will inform strategies to manipulate ferroptosis sensitivity and help illuminate the mechanism underlying ISC biosynthesis disorders, such as Friedreich's ataxia.

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Reata Announces that The FDA Has Asked The Company to Request a Pre-NDA Meeting for Omaveloxolone for the Treatment of Friedreich’s Ataxia

FARA Co-Founder and President, Ron Bartek and FARA CEO, Jennifer Farmer said, "Thank you to the entire global Friedreich's ataxia community- individuals with FA, family, friends, clinicians, and researchers- who shared their voices as part of the FA Community Petition: Allow Individuals with Friedreich's Ataxia Access to Omaveloxolone which was sent to Reata Pharmaceuticals and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA's request for a Pre- NDA meeting demonstrates the power of the community’s unified voice. Thank you to the FDA for demonstrating flexibility, being open to additional data analysis, and considering the patient voice in the drug development process. We are also grateful to Reata Pharmaceuticals for their steadfast commitment to the omaveloxolone program in FA. FARA looks forward to working with both Reata and the FDA in the next steps of the process and keeping the community informed."

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Reverse phase protein array reveals correlation of retinoic acid metabolism with cardiomyopathy in Friedreich's ataxia

This study utilized a sensitive and high-throughput proteomic technique, reverse phase protein array (RPPA), to attain protein expression profiles of primary fibroblasts obtained from Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) patients and unaffected controls. The RPPA was designed to detect 217 proteins or phosphorylated proteins by individual antibody, and the specificity of each antibody was validated prior to the experiment. Among sixty-two fibroblast samples (44 FRDA and 18 controls) analyzed, 30 proteins/phosphoproteins were significantly changed in FRDA fibroblasts compared to control cells (p<0.05), mostly representing signaling molecules and metabolic enzymes. As expected, frataxin (FXN) was significantly downregulated in FRDA samples, thus serving as an internal control for assay integrity. Extensive bioinformatic analyses were conducted to correlate differentially expressed proteins with critical disease parameters (e.g. selected symptoms, age of onset, GAA sizes, FXN levels, FARS scores). Results identified altered expression of members of the integrin family of proteins specifically associated with hearing loss in FRDA. Also, RPPA data, combined with results of transcriptome profiling, uncovered defects in the retinoic acid (RA) metabolism pathway in FRDA samples. Moreover, expression of ALDH1A3 differed significantly between cardiomyopathy positive and negative FRDA cohorts, demonstrating that metabolites such as retinol, retinal or RA could become potential predictive biomarkers of cardiac presentation in FRDA.

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