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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.



Pharmacological therapeutics in Friedreich Ataxia: The present state

Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is a progressive, inherited, neurodegenerative disease for which there is currently no cure or approved treatment. FRDA is caused by deficits in the production and expression of frataxin, a protein found in the mitochondria that is most likely responsible for regulating iron-sulfur cluster enzymes within the cell. A decrease in frataxin causes dysfunction of adenosine triphosphate synthesis, accumulation of mitochondrial iron, and other events leading to downstream cellular dysfunction. Areas covered: Therapeutic development for FRDA currently focuses on improving mitochondrial function and finding ways to increase frataxin expression. Additionally, the authors will review potential approaches aimed at iron modulation and genetic modulation. Finally, gene therapy is progressing rapidly and is being explored as a treatment for FRDA. Expert commentary: The collection of multiple therapeutic approaches provides many possible ways to treat FRDA. Although the mitochondrial approaches are not thought to be curative, as the primary frataxin deficit will remain, they may still produce improvements in quality of life and slowing of progression. Therapies aimed at frataxin restoration are more likely to truly modify the disease, with gene therapy as the best possibility to alter the course of the disease from both a cardiac and neurological perspective.

Read more HERE

Nicotinamide mononucleotide requires SIRT3 to improve cardiac function and bioenergetics in a Friedreich's ataxia cardiomyopathy model

Increasing NAD+ levels by supplementing with the precursor nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) improves cardiac function in multiple mouse models of disease. While NMN influences several aspects of mitochondrial metabolism, the molecular mechanisms by which increased NAD+ enhances cardiac function are poorly understood. A putative mechanism of NAD+ therapeutic action exists via activation of the mitochondrial NAD+-dependent protein deacetylase sirtuin 3 (SIRT3). This group assessed the therapeutic efficacy of NMN and the role of SIRT3 in the Friedreich's ataxia cardiomyopathy mouse model (FXN-KO). At baseline, the FXN-KO heart has mitochondrial protein hyperacetylation, reduced Sirt3 mRNA expression, and evidence of increased NAD+ salvage. Remarkably, NMN administered to FXN-KO mice restores cardiac function to near-normal levels. To determine whether SIRT3 is required for NMN therapeutic efficacy, we generated SIRT3-KO and SIRT3-KO/FXN-KO (double KO [dKO]) models. The improvement in cardiac function upon NMN treatment in the FXN-KO is lost in the dKO model, demonstrating that the effects of NMN are dependent upon cardiac SIRT3. Coupled with cardio-protection, SIRT3 mediates NMN-induced improvements in both cardiac and extracardiac metabolic function and energy metabolism. Taken together, these results serve as important preclinical data for NMN supplementation or SIRT3 activator therapy in Friedreich's ataxia patients.

Read more HERE

Call for Abstracts - 10th Annual Friedreich’s Ataxia Symposium

The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) would like to invite young investigators—graduate/medical students and post-doctoral fellows—to submit abstracts for the 10th Annual Friedreich’s Ataxia Symposium to be held on October 15-16, 2017 in King of Prussia, PA. This one-day symposium provides patients and families with up-to-date clinical information on therapeutic approaches and current research being conducted in the field of Friedreich’s ataxia. We begin with a reception on the evening of Sunday, October 15, and talks throughout the day on Monday, October 16, 2017. Posters will be up throughout the meeting with specific poster sessions during the reception on the 15th and breakfast and lunch on the 16th. We encourage you to share this information with young investigators in your lab who would benefit from gaining greater exposure to the FA community in addition to the experience of presenting their research data.


Please Click Here to read more about the 10th Annual Friedreich’s Ataxia Symposium, and abstract submission (PDF).


Click Here to download the abtract submission form (Word Doc).

AFAF and FARA invite proposals for research projects that advance drug discovery, development of novel biomarkers or improve clinical outcomes in Friedreich’s ataxia patients

On July 1-8, 2017, 20 riders from the United States and 28 riders from France came together for a 350 mile ride from Strasbourg France to Lentilly, France in rideATAXIA’s first venture overseas - rideATAXIA Europe, Le Peloton de l’Espoir (The Peloton of Hope).

The Association Française de l’Ataxie de Friedreich (AFAF) and Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) will co-fund a research project with the funds raised from Peloton de l’Espoir. This will be a one year research award aimed at funding a short, focused project that can provide substantial proof of concept. Based on current funds raised, we estimate being able to make one research grant award between 75-100,000 Euro.

Read more HERE

Circulating miR-323-3p is a biomarker for cardiomyopathy and an indicator of phenotypic variability in Friedreich's ataxia patients

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are noncoding RNAs that contribute to gene expression modulation by regulating important cellular pathways. In this study, we used small RNA sequencing to identify a series of circulating miRNAs in blood samples taken from Friedreich's ataxia patients. We were thus able to develop a miRNA biomarker signature to differentiate Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) patients from healthy people. Most research on FDRA has focused on understanding the role of frataxin in the mitochondria, and a whole molecular view of pathological pathways underlying FRDA therefore remains to be elucidated. We found seven differentially expressed miRNAs, and we propose that these miRNAs represent key mechanisms in the modulation of several signalling pathways that regulate the physiopathology of FRDA. If this is the case, miRNAs can be used to characterize phenotypic variation in FRDA and stratify patients' risk of cardiomyopathy. In this study, we identify miR-323-3p as a candidate marker for phenotypic differentiation in FRDA patients suffering from cardiomyopathy. We propose the use of dynamic miRNAs as biomarkers for phenotypic characterization and prognosis of FRDA.

Read more HERE

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