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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.


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.

Elucidation of the mechanism of mitochondrial iron loading in Friedreich's ataxia by analysis of a mouse mutant

We used the muscle creatine kinase (MCK) conditional frataxin knockout mouse to elucidate how frataxin deficiency alters iron metabolism. This is of significance because frataxin deficiency leads to Friedreich's ataxia, a disease marked by neurologic and cardiologic degeneration. Using cardiac tissues, we demonstrate that frataxin deficiency leads to down-regulation of key molecules involved in 3 mitochondrial utilization pathways: iron-sulfur cluster (ISC) synthesis (iron-sulfur cluster scaffold protein1/2 and the cysteine desulferase Nfs1), mitochondrial iron storage (mitochondrial ferritin), and heme synthesis (5-aminolevulinate dehydratase, coproporphyrinogen oxidase, hydroxymethylbilane synthase, uroporphyrinogen III synthase, and ferrochelatase).

Read More: Elucidation of the mechanism of mitochondrial iron loading in Friedreich's ataxia by analysis of a mouse mutant

The first cellular models based on frataxin missense mutations that reproduce spontaneously the defects associated with Friedreich ataxia

Friedreich ataxia (FRDA), the most common form of recessive ataxia, is due to reduced levels of frataxin, a highly conserved mitochondrial iron-chaperone involved in iron-sulfur cluster (ISC) biogenesis. Most patients are homozygous for a (GAA)n expansion within the first intron of the frataxin gene. A few patients, either with typical or atypical clinical presentation, are compound heterozygous for the GAA expansion and a micromutation.

Read More: The first cellular models based on frataxin missense mutations that reproduce spontaneously the defects associated with Friedreich ataxia

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