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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.


Chemical probes identify a role for histone deacetylase 3 in Friedreich's ataxia gene silencing

We recently identified a class of pimelic diphenylamide histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors that show promise as therapeutics in the neurodegenerative diseases Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) and Huntington's disease. Here, we describe chemical approaches to identify the HDAC enzyme target of these inhibitors. Incubation of a trifunctional activity-based probe with a panel of class I and class II recombinant HDAC enzymes, followed by click chemistry addition of a fluorescent dye and gel electrophoresis, identifies HDAC3 as a unique high-affinity target of the probe.

Read More: Chemical probes identify a role for histone deacetylase 3 in Friedreich's ataxia gene silencing

Friedreich's ataxia: Oxidative stress and cytoskeletal abnormalities

Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the gene encoding frataxin, a mitochondrial protein implicated in iron metabolism. Current evidence suggests that loss of frataxin causes iron overload in tissues, and increase in free-radical production leading to oxidation and inactivation of mitochondrial respiratory chain enzymes, particularly Complexes I, II, III and aconitase.

Read More: Friedreich's ataxia: Oxidative stress and cytoskeletal abnormalities

Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors and Neurodegenerative Disorders: Holding the Promise

Neurodegenerative disorders (NDs) such as Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, Friedreich's ataxia, and others are multi-factorial illnesses, in which many pathways (still poorly understood) act serially and in parallel to give a determined pathologic phenotype.

Read More: Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors and Neurodegenerative Disorders: Holding the Promise

The dorsal root ganglion in Friedreich's ataxia

Atrophy of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and thinning of dorsal roots (DR) are hallmarks of Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA). Many previous authors also emphasized the selective vulnerability of larger neurons in DRG and thicker myelinated DR axons. This report is based on a systematic reexamination of DRG, DR and ventral roots (VR) in 19 genetically confirmed cases of FRDA by immunocytochemistry and single- and double-label immunofluorescence with antibodies to specific proteins of myelin, neurons and axons; S-100alpha as a marker of satellite and Schwann cells; laminin; and the iron-responsive proteins ferritin, mitochondrial ferritin, and ferroportin.

Read More: The dorsal root ganglion in Friedreich's ataxia

Limitations in a frataxin knockdown cell model for Friedreich ataxia in a high-throughput drug screen.

Pharmacological high-throughput screening (HTS) represents a powerful strategy for drug discovery in genetic diseases, particularly when the full spectrum of pathological dysfunctions remains unclear, such as in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA). FRDA, the most common recessive ataxia, results from a generalized deficiency of mitochondrial and cytosolic iron-sulfur cluster (ISC) proteins activity, due to a partial loss of frataxin function, a mitochondrial protein proposed to function as an iron-chaperone for ISC biosynthesis. In the absence of measurable catalytic function for frataxin, a cell-based assay is required for HTS assay.

Read More: Limitations in a frataxin knockdown cell model for Friedreich ataxia in a high-throughput drug screen.

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