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Progression of Friedreich ataxia: quantitative characterization over 5 years

OBJECTIVE: Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder of adults and children. This study analyzed neurological outcomes and changes to identify predictors of progression and generate power calculations for clinical trials.

METHODS: Eight hundred and twelve subjects in a natural history study were evaluated annually across 12 sites using the Friedreich Ataxia Rating Scale (FARS), 9-Hole Peg Test, Timed 25-Foot Walk, visual acuity tests, self-reported surveys and disability scales. Cross-sectional outcomes were assessed from recent visits, and longitudinal changes were gaged over 5 years from baseline.

RESULTS: Cross-sectional outcomes correlated with measures of disease severity. Age, genetic severity (guanine-adenine-adenine [GAA] repeat length), and testing site predicted performance. Serial progression was relatively linear using FARS and composite measures of performance, while individual performance outcomes were nonlinear over time. Age strongly predicted change from baseline until removing the effects of baseline FARS scores, when GAA becomes a more important factor. Progression is fastest in younger subjects and subjects with longer GAA repeats. Improved coefficients of variation show that progression results are more reproducible over longer assessment durations.

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About the Author

Jen Farmer

Jen Farmer

Executive Director

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