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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.


Chondrial Therapeutics Announces Dosing of First Patients in Phase 1 Clinical Program of CTI-1601 for Treatment of Friedreich’s Ataxia

CTI-1601 granted Rare Pediatric Disease Designation and Fast Track Designation by U.S. FDA

BALA CYNWYD, Pa., Dec. 18, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Chondrial Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing treatments for rare diseases, with an initial focus on Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), today announced that the first patients have been dosed in a Phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and tolerability of single ascending doses of CTI-1601. CTI-1601 is a recombinant fusion protein intended to deliver human frataxin to patients with FA, who have decreased levels of frataxin.

"CTI-1601 is designed to address the root cause of Friedreich’s ataxia – low levels of frataxin. The initiation of our Phase 1 clinical program was supported by positive preclinical data and is an important step forward for patients affected by FA, a devastating and progressive disease for which there is no cure," said Carole Ben-Maimon, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Chondrial Therapeutics. "We separately announced today a merger that will provide us with significant resources to advance our development of CTI-1601 and expand our efforts in other rare diseases that may benefit from a cell-penetrating peptide approach."

View the entire Press Release Here

Zafgen and Chondrial Therapeutics Announce Definitive Merger Agreement

Creates clinical-stage company focused on the development of novel protein replacement therapies for rare diseases

Chondrial Therapeutics' lead asset, CTI-1601, currently being evaluated in Phase 1 clinical trial for Friedreich’s ataxia

Companies to host conference call today at 8:30 a.m. ET


BOSTON and BALA CYNWYD, Pa., Dec. 18, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Zafgen, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZFGN) and Chondrial Therapeutics, Inc., today announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Chondrial will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zafgen and the stockholders of Chondrial Therapeutics will become the majority owners of Zafgen’s outstanding common stock upon the close of the merger. The proposed merger will result in a combined publicly traded, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company operating under a new name, Larimar Therapeutics, Inc.

View the entire Press Release Here

Exicure Announces First Neurological Development Program in Friedreich’s Ataxia and Expands Scientific Advisory Board

- Exicure to collaborate with Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA)

- Hank Paulson, MD, PhD and Susan Perlman, MD, added to Scientific Advisory Board


CHICAGO & CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 16, 2019-- Exicure, Inc. (NASDAQ:XCUR), the pioneer in gene regulatory and immunotherapeutic drugs utilizing spherical nucleic acid (SNA™) technology, today announced Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) as the therapeutic indication for the company’s first neurology development program. Exicure also announced the expansion of its Scientific Advisory Board.

"Over the past year Exicure has developed extensive preclinical data supporting the development of our SNAs for neurological disorders. We’re eager to evaluate our technology for this important unmet medical need," said David Giljohann, PhD, Exicure’s chief executive officer. "We are also pleased to add the experience and team from the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA)," added Dr. Giljohann.


View the Exicure Press Release PDF Here

Effects of tocotrienol supplementation in Friedreich's ataxia: A model of oxidative stress pathology

In this study, the authors aimed at evaluating whether tocotrienol, a phytonutrient that diffuses easily in tissues with saturated fatty layers, could complement the current treatment with idebenone, a quinone analogue with antioxidant properties. Five young Friedreich’s ataxia patients received a low-dose tocotrienol supplementation (5 mg/kg/day), while not discontinuing idebenone treatment. Several oxidative stress markers and biological parameters related to oxidative stress were evaluated at the time of initiation of treatment and 2 and 12 months post-treatment. Some oxidative stress-related parameters and some inflammation indices were altered in Friedreich’s ataxia patients taking idebenone alone and tended to be normal values following tocotrienol supplementation; likewise, a cardiac magnetic resonance study showed some improvement following one-year tocotrienol treatment. The pathway by which tocotrienol affects the Nrf2 modulation of hepcidin gene expression, a peptide involved in iron handling and in inflammatory responses, is viewed in the light of the disruption of the iron intracellular distribution and of the Nrf2 anergy characterizing Friedreich’s ataxia. This research provides a suitable model to analyze the efficacy of therapeutic strategies able to counteract the excess free radicals in Friedreich’s ataxia, and paves the way to long-term clinical studies.

Read the entire article HERE

Friedreich's Ataxia: Case series and the Additive Value of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance

Currently, Friedreich's ataxia cardiomyopathy (FA-CM) staging is based on early ECG findings, high sensitivity troponin (hsTNT) ≥14 ng/ml and echocardiographic left ventricular (LV) morphologic and functional evaluation. However, further parameters, accessible only by cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), such as myocardial oedema, perfusion defects, replacement and/or diffuse myocardial fibrosis, may have a place in the staging of FA-CA. The aim of this study was to elucidate the additive value of CMR in FA-CM. Three FA cases were assessed using ECG, 24 h Holter recording, hsTNT, routine ECHO including wall dimension, valvular and ventricular function evaluation and CMR using 1.5T Ingenia system. Ventricular volumes-function, wall dimensions and fibrosis imaging using late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) was performed. All FA patients had non-specific ECG changes, almost normal 24 h Holter recording, mild hypertrophy with normal function assessed by echocardiography and increased hsTNT. However, the CMR evaluation revealed the presence of LGE >5% of LV mass, indicative of severe fibrosis. Therefore, the FA patients were re-categorized as having severe FA-CA, although their LVEF remained normal. The combination of classical diagnostic indices and CMR may reveal early asymptomatic FA-CM and motivate the early initiation of cardiac treatment. Furthermore, these indices can be also used to validate specific treatment targets in FA, potentially useful in the prevention of FA-CM.

Read the entire article HERE

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