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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.


Health related quality of life measures in Friedreich Ataxia

Evaluation of therapeutic agents for Friedreich Ataxia (FA) has been limited by a lack of adequate markers of disease progression. We assessed the capacity of health related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaires to reflect disease status in FA. The SF-36 and several symptom-specific scales were administered to an FA cohort. Scores were compared with norms for the United States population, and to a disease-free control group of similar age and gender.

Read More: Health related quality of life measures in Friedreich Ataxia

Glutathione-dependent redox status of frataxin-deficient cells in a yeast model of Friedreich's ataxia

Friedreich's ataxia is a neurodegenerative disease caused by reduced expression of the mitochondrial protein frataxin. The main phenotypic features of frataxin-deficient human and yeast cells include iron accumulation in mitochondria, iron-sulphur cluster defects and high sensitivity to oxidative stress. Glutathione is a major protective agent against oxidative damage and glutathione-related systems participate in maintaining the cellular thiol/disulfide status and the reduced environment of the cell. Here, we present the first detailed biochemical study of the glutathione-dependent redox status of wild-type and frataxin-deficient cells in a yeast model of the disease. There were five times less total glutathione (GSH+GSSG) in frataxin-deficient cells, imbalanced GSH/GSSG pools and higher glutathione peroxidase activity.

Read More: Glutathione-dependent redox status of frataxin-deficient cells in a yeast model of Friedreich's ataxia

Deferiprone targets aconitase: implication for Friedreich's ataxia treatment

BACKGROUND:
Friedreich ataxia is a neurological disease originating from an iron-sulfur cluster enzyme deficiency due to impaired iron handling in the mitochondrion, aconitase being particularly affected. As a mean to counteract disease progression, it has been suggested to chelate free mitochondrial iron. Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in this strategy because of availability of deferiprone, a chelator preferentially targeting mitochondrial iron.

METHOD:
Control and Friedreich's ataxia patient cultured skin fibroblasts, frataxin-depleted neuroblastoma-derived cells (SK-N-AS) were studied for their response to iron chelation, with a particular attention paid to iron-sensitive aconitase activity.

Read More: Deferiprone targets aconitase: implication for Friedreich's ataxia treatment

Dynamics, stability and iron-binding activity of frataxin clinical mutants

Friedreich's ataxia results from a deficiency in the mitochondrial protein frataxin, which carries single point mutations in some patients. In the present study, we analysed the consequences of different disease-related mutations in vitro on the stability and dynamics of human frataxin. Two of the mutations, G130V and D122Y, were investigated for the first time. Analysis by CD spectroscopy demonstrated a substantial decrease in the thermodynamic stability of the variants during chemical and thermal unfolding (wild-type > W155R > I154F > D122Y > G130V), which was reversible in all cases. Protein dynamics was studied in detail and revealed that the mutants have distinct propensities towards aggregation. It was observed that the mutants have increased correlation times and different relative ratios between soluble and insoluble/aggregated protein. NMR showed that the clinical mutants retained a compact and relatively rigid globular core despite their decreased stabilities.

Read More: Dynamics, stability and iron-binding activity of frataxin clinical mutants

Speech perception ability in individuals with Friedreich ataxia

The aim of this study was to investigate auditory pathway function and speech perception ability in individuals with Friedreich ataxia (FRDA). Ten subjects confirmed by genetic testing as being homozygous for a GAA expansion in intron 1 of the FXN gene were included. While each of the subjects demonstrated normal, or near normal sound detection, 3 of the 10 showed electrophysiological evidence of auditory pathway disorder [presenting with the auditory neuropathy/dyssynchrony (AN/AD) result pattern], and 9 of the 10 showed abnormal speech understanding when tested with levels of background noise typical of everyday listening conditions.

Read More: Speech perception ability in individuals with Friedreich ataxia

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