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FARAFARA Cure FA

 

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.

 


 

Characterization of a new N-terminally acetylated extra-mitochondrial isoform of frataxin in human erythrocytes

Frataxin is a highly conserved protein encoded by the frataxin (FXN) gene. The full-length 210-amino acid form of protein frataxin (1-210; isoform A) expressed in the cytosol of cells rapidly gets moved to the mitochondria, where it is converted to the mature form (81-210). Mature frataxin (81-210) is a critically important protein because it facilitates the assembly of mitochondrial iron-sulfur cluster protein complexes such as aconitase, lipoate synthase, and succinate dehydrogenases. Decreased expression of frataxin protein is responsible for Friedreich's ataxia. The mitochondrial form of frataxin has long been thought to be present in red blood cells even though they lack mitochondria. This paper shows that frataxin in red blood cells is a novel form of frataxin (called isoform E) with 135-amino acids and an N-terminally acetylated methionine residue. There is three times more isoform E in red blood cells from the whole blood of healthy volunteers compared to the mature mitochondrial frataxin present in other blood cells. Isoform E lacks a mitochondrial targeting sequence and so is distributed to both cytosol and the nucleus when expressed in cultured cells. When extra-mitochondrial frataxin isoform E is expressed in HEK 293 cells, it is converted to a shorter isoform identical to the mature frataxin found in mitochondria, which raises the possibility that it is involved in disease etiology. The ability to specifically quantify extra-mitochondrial and mitochondrial isoforms of frataxin in whole blood will make it possible to readily follow the natural history of diseases such as Friedreich's ataxia and monitor the efficacy of therapeutic interventions.

Read the entire article HERE

Rapid and Complete Reversal of Sensory Ataxia by Gene Therapy in a Novel Model of Friedreich Ataxia

Friedreich ataxia (FA) is a rare mitochondrial disease characterized by sensory and spinocerebellar ataxia, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and diabetes, for which there is no treatment. FA is caused by reduced levels of frataxin (FXN), an essential mitochondrial protein involved in the biosynthesis of iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters. Despite significant progress in recent years, to date, there are no good models to explore and test therapeutic approaches to stop or reverse the ganglionopathy and the sensory neuropathy associated to frataxin deficiency. Here, we report a new conditional mouse model with complete frataxin deletion in parvalbumin-positive cells that recapitulate the sensory ataxia and neuropathy associated to FA, albeit with a more rapid and severe course. Interestingly, although fully dysfunctional, proprioceptive neurons can survive for many weeks without frataxin. Furthermore, we demonstrate that post-symptomatic delivery of frataxin-expressing AAV allows for rapid and complete rescue of the sensory neuropathy associated with frataxin deficiency, thus establishing the pre-clinical proof of concept for the potential of gene therapy in treating FA neuropathy.

Read the entire article HERE

Oligonucleotides Hold Promise as a Therapy for Friedreich's Ataxia

Friedreich's ataxia currently is incurable, but synthetic antisense oligonucleotides have demonstrated promising results in increasing frataxin gene expression and restoring it to normal levels

Read the entire article HERE

Voyager Therapeutics Announces Additional Data at the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy 2018 Annual Meeting

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 18, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Voyager Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:VYGR), a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on developing life-changing treatments for severe neurological diseases today announced additional data presentations at the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) taking place May 16-19, 2018, in Chicago, Ill. This evening at ASGCT, Voyager presented results for its gene therapy program for Friedreich’s ataxia as well as data related to Voyager’s novel adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsid optimization efforts.

Read the entire article HERE

Safety, pharmacodynamics, and potential benefit of omaveloxolone in Friedreich ataxia

Objective
Previous studies have demonstrated that suppression of Nrf2 in Friedreich ataxia tissues contributes to excess oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and reduced ATP production. Omaveloxolone, an Nrf2 activator and NF‐kB suppressor, targets dysfunctional inflammatory, metabolic, and bioenergetic pathways. The dose‐ranging portion of this Phase 2 study assessed the safety, pharmacodynamics, and potential benefit of omaveloxolone in Friedreich ataxia patients (NCT02255435).

Methods
Sixty‐nine Friedreich ataxia patients were randomized 3:1 to either omaveloxolone or placebo administered once daily for 12 weeks. Patients were randomized in cohorts of eight patients, at dose levels of 2.5–300 mg/day.

Results
Omaveloxolone was well tolerated, and adverse events were generally mild. Optimal pharmacodynamic changes (noted by changes in ferritin and GGT) were observed at doses of 80 and 160 mg/day. No significant changes were observed in the primary outcome, peak work load in maximal exercise testing (0.9 ± 2.9 W, placebo corrected). At the 160 mg/day dose, omaveloxolone improved the secondary outcome of the mFARS by 3.8 points versus baseline (P = 0.0001) and by 2.3 points versus placebo (P = 0.06). Omaveloxolone produced greater improvements in mFARS in patients that did not have musculoskeletal foot deformity (pes cavus). In patients without this foot deformity, omaveloxolone improved mFARS by 6.0 points from baseline (P < 0.0001) and by 4.4 points versus placebo (P = 0.01) at the 160 mg/day.

Interpretation
Treatment of Friedreich ataxia patients with omaveloxolone at the optimal dose level of 160 mg/day appears to improve neurological function. Therefore, omaveloxolone treatment is being examined in greater detail at 150 mg/day for Friedreich ataxia.

Read the entire article HERE

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