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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.

Cerebellar Cognitive Disorder Parallels Cerebellar Motor Symptoms in Friedreich Ataxia

Dentate nuclei (DN) are involved in cerebellar modulation of motor and cognitive functions, whose impairment causes ataxia and cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome (CCAS). Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) disease progression relates to degeneration of the dentate nucleus and dentato-thalamic pathways, causing cerebellar ataxia. Volumetric MRI also shows mild loss in the cerebellar cortex, brainstem, and motor cortex. Cognitive deficits occur in FRDA, but their relationship with ataxia progression is not fully characterized. The authors found a significant positive correlation between severity of patients' ataxia and more marked CCAS as assessed with the CCAS-Scale. This relation could be related to progressive DN impairment.

Read the entire article HERE

Significance of NT-proBNP and High-sensitivity Troponin in Friedreich Ataxia

The authors aimed at determining the relationship between cardiac biomarkers, serum N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), and serum cardiac high-sensitivity troponin (hsTnT) concentrations, and the extent of genetic abnormality and cardiac parameters in Friedreich's ataxia (FA). Between 2013 and 2015, 85 consecutive genetically confirmed FA adult patients were prospectively evaluated by measuring plasma hsTnT and NT-proBNP concentrations, electrocardiogram, and echocardiography. The 85 FA patients (49% women) with a mean age of 39 ± 12 years, a mean disease onset of 17 ± 11 years had a mean SARA (Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia) score of 26 ± 10. The median hsTnT concentration was 10 ng/L (3 to 85 ng/L) and 34% had a significant elevated hsTnT ≥ 14 ng/L. Increased septal wall thickness was associated with increased hsTnT plasma levels (p < 0.001). The median NT-proBNP concentration was 31 ng/L (5 to 775 ng/L) and 14% had significant elevated NT-proBNP ≥ 125 ng/L. Markers of increased left ventricular filling pressure (trans mitral E/A and lateral E/E' ratio) were associated with increased NT-proBNP plasma levels (p = 0.01 and p = 0.01). Length of GAA or the SARA score were not associated with hsTnT or NT-proBNP plasma levels. hsTnT and NT-proBNP could be used to identify patients that should undergo a closer cardiac surveillance.

Read the entire article HERE

CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing of Hematopoietic Stem Cells From Patients With Friedreich's Ataxia

These investigators have previously reported that syngeneic hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) transplantation prevented neurodegeneration in the Friedreich's Ataxia (FRDA) mouse model YG8R. This group showed that the mechanism of rescue was mediated by the transfer of the functional frataxin from HSPC-derived microglia/macrophage cells to neurons/myocytes. In this study, the first step toward an autologous HSPC transplantation using the CRISPR-Cas9 system for FRDA is reported. The authors first identified a pair of CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) that efficiently removes the GAA expansions in human FRDA lymphoblasts, restoring the non-pathologic level of frataxin expression and normalizing mitochondrial activity. They also optimized the gene-editing approach in HSPCs isolated from healthy and FRDA patients' peripheral blood and demonstrated normal hematopoiesis of gene-edited cells in vitro and in vivo. The procedure did not induce cellular toxic effect or major off-target events, but a p53-mediated cell proliferation delay was observed in the gene-edited cells. This study provides the foundation for the clinical translation of autologous transplantation of gene-corrected HSPCs for FRDA.

Read the entire article HERE

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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