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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.

 


 

Improved Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors as Therapeutics for the Neurodegenerative Disease Friedreich's Ataxia: A New Synthetic Route

Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA) is caused by transcriptional repression of the nuclear FXN gene encoding the essential mitochondrial protein frataxin. Based on the hypothesis that the acetylation state of the histone proteins is responsible for gene silencing in FRDA, previous work in our lab identified a first generation of HDAC inhibitors (pimelic o-aminobenzamides), which increase FXN mRNA in lymphocytes from FRDA patients. Importantly, these compounds also function in a FRDA mouse model to increase FXN mRNA levels in the brain and heart.

Improved Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors as Therapeutics for the Neurodegenerative Disease Friedreich's Ataxia: A New Synthetic Route

The Neuropathology of Late-Onset Friedreich's Ataxia

Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) affects very young persons. In a large series, the mean ages of onset and death were 11 and 38 years, respectively. The clinical spectrum of FRDA has expanded after genetic confirmation of the mutation became a routine laboratory test. The main cause of death in juvenile-onset FRDA is cardiomyopathy whereas patients with late-onset are more likely to succumb to neurological disability or an intercurrent illness.

The Neuropathology of Late-Onset Friedreich's Ataxia

Axial diffusivity is increased in the degenerating superior cerebellar peduncles of Friedreich's ataxia

Decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) demonstrated by diffusion tensor MR imaging (DTI) in areas of white matter (WM) damage is generally associated with increase of radial diffusivity, while axial diffusivity is reported to be decreased, unchanged, or increased. Aiming to better define the type of axial diffusivity change occurring in a typical human neurodegenerative disease, we investigated axial and radial diffusivity in Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) which is characterized by selective neuronal loss of the dentate nuclei and atrophy and decreased FA of the superior cerebellar peduncles (SCPs).

Axial diffusivity is increased in the degenerating superior cerebellar peduncles of Friedreich's ataxia

Repeat expansion affects both transcription initiation and elongation in friedreich ataxia cells

Expansion of a GAA · TTC repeat in the first intron of the frataxin (FXN) gene causes an mRNA deficit that results in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA). The region flanking the repeat on FRDA alleles is associated with more extensive DNA methylation than is seen on normal alleles and histone modifications typical of repressed genes. However, whether these changes are responsible for the mRNA deficit is controversial.

Repeat expansion affects both transcription initiation and elongation in friedreich ataxia cells

Activation of mitochondrial energy metabolism protects against cardiac failure

Cardiac failure is the most prevalent cause of death at higher age, and is commonly associated with impaired energy homeostasis in the heart. Mitochondrial metabolism appears critical to sustain cardiac function to counteract aging. In this study, we generated mice transgenically over-expressing the mitochondrial protein frataxin, which promotes mitochondrial energy conversion by controlling iron-sulfur-cluster biogenesis and hereby mitochondrial electron flux.

Activation of mitochondrial energy metabolism protects against cardiac failure

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