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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.


Frataxin deficiency induces schwann cell inflammation and death.

Mutations in the frataxin gene cause dorsal root ganglion demyelination and neurodegeneration, which leads to Friedreich's ataxia. However the consequences of frataxin depletion have not been measured in dorsal root ganglia or Schwann cells. We knocked down frataxin in several neural cell lines, including two dorsal root ganglia neural lines, 2 neuronal lines, a human oligodendroglial line (HOG) and multiple Schwann cell lines and measured cell death and proliferation. Only Schwann cells demonstrated a significant decrease in viability. In addition to the death of Schwann cells, frataxin decreased proliferation in Schwann, oligodendroglia, and slightly in one neural cell line.

Read More: Frataxin deficiency induces schwann cell inflammation and death.

Comparison of three clinical rating scales in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA)

To test the validity and reliability of the scale for the assessment and rating of ataxia (SARA) in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA). SARA is limited to eight items and can be performed rapidly. Ninety-six patients with a molecular genetic diagnosis of FRDA were rated using three different clinical scales, the FRDA Rating Scale (FARS), the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale (ICARS), and SARA.

Read More: Comparison of three clinical rating scales in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA)

Nitric oxide and frataxin: two players contributing to maintain cellular iron homeostasis

Background Nitric oxide (NO) is a signalling and physiologically active molecule in animals, plants and bacteria. The specificity of the molecular mechanism(s) involved in transducing the NO signal within and between cells and tissues is still poorly understood. NO has been shown to be an emerging and potent signal molecule in plant growth, development and stress physiology. The NO donor S-nitrosoglutathion (GSNO) was shown to be a biologically active compound in plants and a candidate for NO storage and/or mobilization between plant tissues and cells. NO has been implicated as a central component in maintaining iron bioavailavility in plants.

Read More: Nitric oxide and frataxin: two players contributing to maintain cellular iron homeostasis

Subjective Improvement in Proprioception in 2 Patients With Atypical Friedreich Ataxia Treated With Varenicline (Chantix)

Two patients with atypical Friedreich ataxia (heterozygotes for a GAA expansion and a G130V point mutation) experienced modest proprioceptive improvements in their extremities within a month of taking varenicline (Chantix), a drug approved for smoking cessation.

Read More: Subjective Improvement in Proprioception in 2 Patients With Atypical Friedreich Ataxia Treated With Varenicline (Chantix)

Large-scale expansions of Friedreich's ataxia GAA repeats in yeast

Large-scale expansions of DNA repeats are implicated in numerous hereditary disorders in humans. We describe a yeast experimental system to analyze large-scale expansions of triplet GAA repeats responsible for the human disease Friedreich's ataxia. When GAA repeats were placed into an intron of the chimeric URA3 gene, their expansions caused gene inactivation, which was detected on the selective media.

Read More: Large-scale expansions of Friedreich's ataxia GAA repeats in yeast

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