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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.


Hereditary Ataxia: A Focus on Heme Metabolism and Fe-S Cluster Biogenesis

Heme and Fe-S clusters regulate a plethora of essential biological processes ranging from cellular respiration and cell metabolism to the maintenance of genome integrity. Mutations in genes involved in heme metabolism and Fe-S cluster biogenesis cause different forms of ataxia, like posterior column ataxia and retinitis pigmentosa (PCARP), Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) and X-linked sideroblastic anemia with ataxia (XLSA/A). Despite great efforts in the elucidation of the molecular pathogenesis of these disorders several important questions still remain to be addressed. Starting with an overview of the biology of heme metabolism and Fe-S cluster biogenesis, the review discusses recent progress in the understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of PCARP, FRDA and XLSA/A, and highlights future line of research in the field. A better comprehension of the mechanisms leading to the degeneration of neural circuity responsible for balance and coordinated movement will be crucial for the therapeutic management of these patients.

Read the entire article HERE

Chondrial Therapeutics and Zafgen Complete Merger and Begin Operating as Larimar Therapeutics

May 29, 2020 at 8:00 AM EDT

  • Shares of combined company to commence trading on Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “LRMR” on May 29, 2020
  • Company signed $80 million in private placement financing with biotechnology focused institutional investors
  • New Board Chair, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Financial Officer appointed

BALA CYNWYD, Pa., May 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Chondrial Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing treatments for complex rare diseases, today announced the completion of its reverse merger with Zafgen, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZFGN). The combined, publicly traded clinical-stage biotechnology company will operate under the name Larimar Therapeutics, Inc. and its shares will commence trading on the Nasdaq Global Market on May 29, 2020, under the ticker symbol “LRMR.”

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Analysis of Putative Epigenetic Regulatory Elements in the FXN Genomic Locus

The molecular mechanisms associated with Friedreich´s ataxia (FRDA) are still poorly understood and most studies on FXN gene regulation have been focused on the region around the minimal promoter and the region in which triplet expansion occurs. Nevertheless, since there could be more epigenetic changes involved in the reduced levels of FXN transcripts, the aim of this study was to obtain a more detailed view of the possible regulatory elements by analyzing data from ENCODE and Roadmap consortia databases. This bioinformatic analysis indicated new putative regulatory regions within the FXN genomic locus, including exons, introns, and upstream and downstream regions. Moreover, the region next to the end of intron 4 is of special interest, since the enhancer signals in FRDA-affected tissues are weak or absent in this region, whilst they are strong in the rest of the analyzed tissues. Therefore, these results suggest that there could be a direct relationship between the absence of enhancer sequences in this specific region and their predisposition to be affected in this pathology.

Read the entire article HERE

Making iron-sulfur cluster: structure, regulation and evolution of the bacterial ISC system

Iron sulfur (Fe-S) clusters rank among the most ancient and conserved prosthetic groups. Fe-S clusters containing proteins are present in most, if not all, organisms. Fe-S clusters containing proteins are involved in a wide range of cellular processes, from gene regulation to central metabolism, via gene expression, RNA modification or bioenergetics. Fe-S clusters are built by biogenesis machineries conserved throughout both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. This group focuses mostly on bacterial ISC machinery, but not exclusively, as they refer to eukaryotic ISC system when it brings significant complementary information. Besides covering the structural and regulatory aspects of Fe-S biogenesis, this review aims to highlight Fe-S biogenesis facets remaining matters of discussion, such as the role of frataxin, or the link between fatty acid metabolism and Fe-S homeostasis. Last, This review discusses recent advances on strategies used by different species to make and use Fe-S clusters in changing redox environmental conditions.

Read the entire article HERE

Neurofilament Light Chain as a Potential Biomarker of Disease Status in Friedreich Ataxia

The present study evaluates serum neurofilament light chain (NfL) as a biomarker of disease features in Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA). NfL levels from serum of 117 subjects (85 FRDA patients, 13 carriers, and 19 controls) were assayed and correlated with disease features such as smaller GAA repeat length (GAA1), age, sex, and level of neurological dysfunction. Mean serum NfL levels were higher in FRDA patients than in carriers or unaffected controls in two independent cohorts of subjects. In longitudinal samples from FRDA patients drawn monthly or 1 year apart, values changed minimally. No difference was noted between carriers and controls. NfL levels correlated positively with age in controls and carriers of similar age, (Rs = 0.72, p < 0.0005), whereas NfL levels inversely correlated with age in FRDA patients (Rs = - 0.63, p < 0.001). NfL levels were not associated with sex or GAA1 length in patients, and linear regression revealed a significant relationship between NfL levels in the cohort with age (coefficient = - 0.36, p < 0.001), but not sex (p = 0.64) or GAA1 (p = 0.13). Because NfL is elevated in patients, but decreases with age and disease progression, our results suggest that age is the critical determinant of NfL in FRDA (rather than clinical or genetic severity).

Read the entire article HERE

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