Friedreich ataxia is an autosomal recessive disease with no available therapy. Clinical trials with erythropoietin in Friedreich ataxia patients have yielded conflicting results, and the long-term effect of the drug remains unknown.

METHODS: We designed a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial to test the efficacy of epoetin alfa on 56 patients with Friedreich ataxia. The primary endpoint of the study was the effect of epoetin alfa on peak oxygen uptake (VO2 max) at the cardiopulmonary exercise test. Secondary endpoints were frataxin levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, improvement in echocardiography findings, vascular reactivity, neurological progression, upper limb dexterity, safety, and quality of life. Epoetin alfa or placebo (1:1 ratio) was administered subcutaneously at a dose of 1200 IU/Kg of body weight every 12 weeks for 48 weeks.

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