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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.


Reata Pharmaceuticals Completes Rolling Submission of New Drug Application for Omaveloxolone for the Treatment of Patients with Friedreich’s Ataxia

If Approved, Omaveloxolone Would Become the First Therapy Indicated for the Treatment of Patients with Friedreich’s Ataxia

Friedreich’s Ataxia Affects Approximately 5,000 Patients in the United States with an Estimated 4,000 Diagnosed Patients


PLANO, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Reata Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: RETA), (“Reata,” the “Company,” “our,” “us,” or “we”), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, today announced the completion of the rolling submission of a New Drug Application (“NDA”) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for omaveloxolone for the treatment of patients with Friedreich’s ataxia. This NDA is supported by the efficacy and safety data from the MOXIe Part 1, Part 2, and MOXIe Extension studies. The FDA has granted Fast Track Designation and Orphan Drug Designation to omaveloxolone for the treatment of Friedreich’s ataxia.

"This NDA submission marks an important step toward making a treatment available for patients with Friedreich’s ataxia, a serious degenerative neuromuscular disorder with no approved therapies," said Warren Huff, Reata’s Chief Executive Officer. "I want to thank all those who made this possible, especially our patients with Friedreich’s ataxia, their families, and investigators, as well as our employees, for their tenacity and unwavering belief in the omaveloxolone clinical program. We look forward to the next steps on the path to making omaveloxolone available as a first-in-class therapy for Friedreich’s ataxia, pending approval."

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Design Therapeutics Completes Dosing in First Patient Cohort of Phase 1 Trial of DT-216 GeneTAC™ Molecule for the Treatment of Friedreich Ataxia

Topline Data from Phase 1 Trial Expected in the Second Half of 2022

DT-216 Granted FDA Fast Track Designation for Patients with Friedreich Ataxia

CARLSBAD, Calif., March 30, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Design Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: DSGN), a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing treatments for degenerative genetic disorders, today announced that it has completed dosing in the first single ascending dose (SAD) cohort of its Phase 1 clinical trial of DT-216 in patients with Friedreich ataxia (FA). DT-216 is a novel GeneTAC™ gene targeted chimera small molecule designed to specifically target the GAA repeat expansion mutation, the underlying cause of FA, and restore frataxin (FXN) gene expression. Additionally, Design announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track designation to DT-216 for the treatment of patients with FA.

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DNA methylation in Friedreich ataxia silences expression of frataxin isoform E

Epigenetic silencing in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA), induced by an expanded GAA triplet-repeat in intron 1 of the FXN gene, results in deficiency of the mitochondrial protein, frataxin. A lesser known extramitochondrial isoform of frataxin detected in erythrocytes, frataxin-E, is encoded via an alternate transcript (FXN-E) originating in intron 1 that lacks a mitochondrial targeting sequence. The authors show that FXN-E is deficient in FRDA, including in patient-derived cell lines, iPS-derived proprioceptive neurons, and tissues from a humanized mouse model. In a series of FRDA patients, deficiency of frataxin-E protein correlated with the length of the expanded GAA triplet-repeat, and with repeat-induced DNA hypermethylation that occurs in close proximity to the intronic origin of FXN-E. CRISPR-induced epimodification to mimic DNA hypermethylation seen in FRDA reproduced FXN-E transcriptional deficiency. Deficiency of frataxin E is a consequence of FRDA-specific epigenetic silencing, and therapeutic strategies may need to address this deficiency.

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Modelling Protein Plasticity: The Example of Frataxin and Its Variants

Frataxin (FXN) is a protein involved in storage and delivery of iron in the mitochondria. Single-point mutations in the FXN gene lead to reduced production of functional frataxin, with the consequent dyshomeostasis of iron. FXN variants are at the basis of neurological impairment (the Friedreich's ataxia) and several types of cancer. By using altruistic metadynamics in conjunction with the maximal constrained entropy principle, the authors estimate the change of free energy in the protein unfolding of frataxin and of some of its pathological mutants. The sampled configurations highlight differences between the wild-type and mutated sequences in the stability of the folded state. In partial agreement with thermodynamic experiments, where most of the analyzed variants are characterized by lower thermal stability compared to wild type, the D104G variant is found with a stability comparable to the wild-type sequence and a lower water-accessible surface area. These observations point to a functional switch, affected by single-point mutations, of frataxin from iron storage to iron release. The method is suitable to investigate wide structural changes in proteins in general, after a proper tuning of the chosen collective variable used to perform the transition.

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Recessive cerebellar and afferent ataxias - clinical challenges and future directions

Cerebellar and afferent ataxias present with a characteristic gait disorder that reflects cerebellar motor dysfunction and sensory loss. These disorders are a diagnostic challenge for clinicians because of the large number of acquired and inherited diseases that cause cerebellar and sensory neuron damage. Among such conditions that are recessively inherited, Friedreich ataxia and RFC1-associated cerebellar ataxia, neuropathy, vestibular areflexia syndrome (CANVAS) include the characteristic clinical, neuropathological and imaging features of ganglionopathies, a distinctive non-length-dependent type of sensory involvement. In this Review, the authors discuss the typical and atypical phenotypes of Friedreich ataxia and CANVAS, along with the features of other recessive ataxias that present with a ganglionopathy or polyneuropathy, with an emphasis on recently described clinical features, natural history and genotype-phenotype correlations. The authors review the main developments in understanding the complex pathology that affects the sensory neurons and cerebellum, which seem to be most vulnerable to disorders that affect mitochondrial function and DNA repair mechanisms. Finally, the disease-modifying therapeutic advances in Friedreich ataxia are discussed, highlighting the most promising candidate molecules and lessons learned from previous clinical trials.

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