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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.


Larimar Therapeutics Reports Positive Topline Phase 1 Clinical Trial Data Showing Dose-Dependent Increases in Frataxin Levels in Patients with Friedreich’s Ataxia

BALA CYNWYD, Pa., May 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Larimar Therapeutics, Inc. (“Larimar”) (Nasdaq: LRMR), a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing treatments for Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) and other complex rare diseases, today announced topline data from its Phase 1 multiple ascending dose (MAD) clinical trial (n=27) evaluating CTI-1601 as a treatment for FA.

FA patients participating in the trial received subcutaneous injections of CTI-1601 or placebo at increasing dose levels and frequencies over a 13-day period. Patients in Cohort 1 were dosed with 25 mg of CTI-1601 or placebo daily for four days, and then every third day until Day 13. Cohort 2 patients were dosed with 50 mg of CTI-1601 or placebo daily for seven days, and then once every other day until Day 13. Patients in Cohort 3 received daily injections of 100 mg CTI-1601 or placebo for thirteen days.

Read the Full article here

Drp1-dependent peptide reverse mitochondrial fragmentation, a homeostatic response in Friedreich ataxia

Mitochondria alter their morphology in response to various stresses; however, such alterations to morphology may be homeostatic or maladaptive depending upon the tissue and disease state. Numerous neurodegenerative diseases exhibit excessive mitochondrial fragmentation, and reversing this phenotype improves bioenergetics for diseases in which mitochondrial dysfunction is a secondary feature of the disease. This paper demonstrates that frataxin deficiency causes excessive mitochondrial fragmentation that is dependent upon Drp1 activity in Friedreich ataxia cellular models. Drp1 inhibition by the small peptide TAT-P110 reverses mitochondrial fragmentation but also decreases ATP levels in frataxin-knockdown fibroblasts and FRDA patient fibroblasts, suggesting that fragmentation may provide a homeostatic pathway for maintaining cellular ATP levels. The cardiolipin-stabilizing compound SS-31 similarly reverses fragmentation through a Drp1-dependent mechanism, but it does not affect ATP levels. The combination of TAT-P110 and SS-31 does not affect FRDA patient fibroblasts differently from SS-31 alone, suggesting that the two drugs act through the same pathway but differ in their ability to alter mitochondrial homeostasis. In approaching potential therapeutic strategies for FRDA, an important criterion for compounds that improve bioenergetics should be to do so without impairing the homeostatic response of mitochondrial fragmentation.

Read the Full article here

Scoliosis in Friedreich's ataxia: longitudinal characterization in a large heterogeneous cohort

The objective of this study was to characterize the incidence and progression of scoliosis in the natural history of Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) and document the factors leading to the requirement for corrective surgery. Data on the prevalence of scoliosis and scoliosis surgery from up to 17 years of follow-up collected during a large natural history study in FRDA (1116 patients at 4928 visits) were summarized descriptively and subjected to time to event analyses. Well over 90% of early or typical FRDA patients (as determined by age of onset) developed intermediate to severe scoliosis, while patients with a later onset (>14 years) had no or much lower prevalence of scoliosis. Diagnosis of scoliosis occurs during the onset of ataxia and in rare cases even prior to that. Major progression follows throughout the growth phase and puberty, leading to the need for surgical intervention in more than 50% of individuals in the most severe subgroup. The youngest patients appear to delay surgery until the end of the growth period, leading to further progression before surgical intervention. Age of onset of FRDA before or after reaching 15 years sharply separated severe and relatively mild incidence and progression of scoliosis. Scoliosis is an important comorbidity of FRDA. This comprehensive documentation of scoliosis progression in this natural history study provides a baseline for comparison as novel treatments become available.

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April Monthly Update for Researchers


FARA Flash Talks

May is FA Awareness Month and one way to bring more awareness to FA is to share FARA funded research with the broader FA community and foster career development for young investigators.

With that in mind, FARA is proud to present: The FA Research Flash Talks series - featuring Young Investigators from FARA funded laboratories around the world. This four-part series will cover key aspects of FARA funded research from gene silencing and disease mechanisms to therapeutic avenues and clinical insights. Each session will include Flash Talks from four to five Young Investigators. Each Flash Talk will be limited to a maximum of five minutes and a single PowerPoint slide and will be suitable for a lay audience.

The series starts tonight, Thursday, May 6th at 7pm (EDT), and will continue weekly. Click HERE to register for one, two, three, or all four of the sessions.

More...
Read the Full April Monthly Update for Researchers
 

Frataxin deficiency promotes endothelial senescence in pulmonary hypertension

The dynamic regulation of endothelial pathophenotypes in pulmonary hypertension (PH) remains undefined. Cellular senescence is linked to PH with intracardiac shunts; however, its regulation across PH subtypes is unknown. Since endothelial deficiency of iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters is pathogenic in PH, the authors hypothesized that a Fe-S biogenesis protein, frataxin (FXN), controls endothelial senescence. An endothelial subpopulation in rodent and patient lungs across PH subtypes exhibited reduced FXN and elevated senescence. In vitro, hypoxic and inflammatory FXN deficiency abrogated activity of endothelial Fe-S-containing polymerases, promoting replication stress, DNA damage response, and senescence. This was also observed in stem cell-derived endothelial cells from Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA), a genetic disease of FXN deficiency, ataxia, and cardiomyopathy, often with PH. In vivo, FXN deficiency-dependent senescence drove vessel inflammation, remodeling, and PH, while pharmacologic removal of senescent cells in Fxn-deficient rodents ameliorated PH. These data offer a model of endothelial biology in PH, where FXN deficiency generates a senescent endothelial subpopulation, promoting vascular inflammatory and proliferative signals in other cells to drive disease. These findings also establish an endothelial etiology for PH in FRDA and left heart disease and support therapeutic development of senolytic drugs, reversing effects of Fe-S deficiency across PH subtypes.

Read the Full article here

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