Friedreich's Ataxia

Patients, Supporters Worldwide Recognizing Rare Disease Day 2020

An abundance of events are afoot around the world to mark Rare Disease Day 2020 on Feb. 29. The activities are focused on heightening awareness about rare diseases and the hundreds of millions of individuals they are thought to affect. Patients, caregivers, and advocates worldwide will sport denim ribbons…

#IARC2017 – Protein-producing Frataxin Gene Delivered to Brain, Heart of Primates in Gene Therapy Study

New viral vectors were found to effectively transfer a normal and protein-producing frataxin gene into major tissues affected by Friedreich’s ataxia — including the brain and the heart — in non-human primates, a new study showed. The study was presented by Holger Patzke of Voyager Therapeutics at IARC 2017 in a presentation Saturday titled “Intravenous delivery of AAV gene therapy to…

#IARC2017 (Exclusive Interview) – Gene Therapy Seen to Reverse Sensory Ataxia in FA Mouse Model

Using a gene therapy strategy similar to one previously shown to reverse heart problems in a Friedreich’s ataxia mouse model, researchers also corrected sensory symptoms associated with the disease in another mouse model. These results suggest that gene therapy may effectively treat different features of Friedreich’s ataxia. Hélène Puccio with the Institut de Genetique…

#IARC2017 – Omaveloxolone Can Aid Neurological Function in FA Patients, MOXIe Trial Shows

Omaveloxolone (RTA 408), an investigation medicine by Reata Pharmaceuticals, improves neurological function in people with Friedreich’s ataxia, according to results from part one of the MOXIe trial presented today at IARC 2017. David Lynch, a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a principal investigator for the Phase 2 clinical study, delivered these…

#IARC2017 – Newly Potent Small Molecules Help Frataxin to Build Up in Cells, FA Study Finds

A new set of small molecules specifically targeting the ubiquitin degradation system inside cells was found to effectively increase frataxin protein levels in several cell types taken from Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) patients, and merits further investigation. The study reporting these findings, “Highly specific ubiquitin-competing molecules promote frataxin accumulation in Friedreich ataxia iPSC-derived neuronal…

#IARC2017 (Exclusive Interview) – MOXIe Trial Could Lead to First FA Treatment, Colin Meyer of Reata Says

Dr. Colin Meyer, the chief medical officer and vice president of Reata Pharmaceuticals, spoke Friday in a taped interview with reporter Patricia Inacio about omaveloxolone, an oral therapy in line to possibly become the first FDA-approved treatment for Friedreich’s ataxia. A Phase 2 clinical trial, called MOXIe (NCT02255435), is moving into a second and…

#IARC2017 – Exercise Stress Tests Can Be Valid Part of FA Studies if Adaptive Equipment Used

Clinical trials to assess changes in the motor skills of Friedreich’s ataxia patients can and should include physical tests — specifically, the so-called exercise stress test performed on adaptive equipment, a new study reports. The study was presented by Kimberly Lin of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perelman School of Medicine…

#IARC2017 – Possible FA Biomarkers Seen in Early Sensory Damage Linked to Mutation’s Degree

Problems in the somatosensory (sensory nervous) and auditory systems of patients with Friedreich’s ataxia are potential biomarkers of early sensory damage, according to a small study. The research, “Cortical responses and change detection to auditory and somatosensory stimuli in Friedreich ataxia,” was presented at IARC 2017  by Gilles Naeije of the Service…

#IARC2017 (Exclusive Interview) – Walking Ability in FA Shows Decline Until Age 25, When It’s Lost, CCRN Reports

People with Friedreich’s ataxia lose the crucial capacity to move freely around age 25, according to a large and ongoing study by an international network of clinical centers devoted to research into this common ataxia. The study, “Detailing the natural history of Friedreich’s ataxia – loss of ambulation in the CCRN-FA study,”…

#IARC2017 – Natural History of FA May Help Tailor More Effective Clinical Trials, EFACTS Suggests

The European Friedreich Ataxia Consortium for Translational Studies (EFACTS) group suggested specific outcome measures it found to be best suited to clinical trials testing possible treatments for Friedreich’s ataxia, and emphasized that studies looking at disease-modifying therapies need to run for at least two years. Jörg Schulz, a neurologist at RWTH…

#IARC2017 (Exclusive Interview) – Aerobic Exercise Seen to Slow FA Onset in Mice, May Have ‘Huge Impact’ on Disease

Regular and long-term aerobic exercise — in this case, running — slowed the start of Friedreich’s ataxia symptoms and prevented metabolic abnormalities in a mouse model of the disease, researchers report, calling their findings evidence that exercise offers “profound protection” if started at a young age. The oral presentation, “Voluntary running prevents onset of symptomatic…

#IARC2017 – Mitochondria, Deprived of Frataxin Protein, Fail to Control Free Radicals in Cells, FA Study Finds

In Friedreich’s ataxia, insufficient frataxin protein in cells impairs the ability of mitochondria  to control the production of harmful reactive oxygen species, which accumulates and ultimately triggers nerve cell death, research into a mouse model of the disease revealed. The study, detailing how harm done to mitochondria in nerve cells helps to promote…

#IARC2017 – Possible FA Treatment Seen in Blocking Protein Linked to Frataxin Degradation

A protein called RNF126 mediates the degradation of the frataxin protein in cells of people with Friedreich’s ataxia, a new study presented at IARC 2017 showed. Its researchers suggest that targeting this protein may be a way of treating the disease, as RNF126 inhibition allowed frataxin to accumulate in cells. The study, “E3 ligase RNF126 directly…

#IARC2017 – New Genetic Variants May Explain Childhood-onset Ataxias, Finnish Study Suggests

A next-generation sequencing technique known as whole exome sequencing (WES) led to new genetic variants for childhood-onset ataxias being identified — including some in genes not previously linked to ataxia, and some that are disease-causing when only one mutation is inherited — Finnish researchers reported at IARC 2017. The presentation, at Wednesday morning’s…

#IARC2017 – New Gene Sequencing Techniques May Lead to Faster Diagnosis, Better Therapies

Recent advances in next-generation sequencing techniques are helping to revolutionize genetic testing, potentially ending the “diagnostic odyssey” that ataxia patients can now go through, researchers in Germany said in the opening presentation of the 2017 International Ataxia Research Conference (IARC) in Pisa, Italy. But with such advances come fresh questions and challenges, Matthis Synofzik at the…

#IARC2017 – Rapid Advances in Research Will Be Key Focus of Global Ataxia Conference

The first International Ataxia Research Conference, in 2015, was a milestone in the quest to find cures for the world’s 40 ataxias, diseases whose hallmark is the loss of muscular coordination. Held in Windsor, England, it was the largest global convention yet to bring together patients, doctors, patient advocacy groups, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators…

New Kind of Sunscreen Targeting Free Iron in Cells May Also Treat Friedrich’s Ataxia

A new form of sun protection that works by chelating, or binding, excess iron within mitochondria may not only protect against UVA rays that current lotions are unable to block, but also lead to new treatments for  Friedreich’s ataxia (FA). The compound, named “mitoiron claw” by the scientific team in the U.K. that developed it, is thought capable…

Study to Explore Rare Gene Mutation Found in Spinocerebellar Ataxia

A study supported by a research grant from the National Ataxia Foundation (NAF) will explore the underlying mutation of the recently described spinocerebellar ataxia, type 41 (SCA41). In addition to producing new insights into spinocerebellar ataxia mechanisms, the study could contribute to improved diagnostics. Only one case with spinocerebellar ataxia and a…

Study Reports Case of Ataxia with Vitamin E Deficiency Misdiagnosed as Friedreich’s Ataxia

A recent study describes a case of ataxia with isolated vitamin E deficiency (AVED) that was initially misdiagnosed as Friedreich’s ataxia, delaying proper treatment. The study was published in the journal Case Reports in Neurological Medicine. AVED is a rare genetic disease characterized by progressive cerebellar ataxia, dorsal column signs, and pyramidal deficits on examination. Clinically,…

Retrotope Announces Second Clinical Trial Site For Friedreich’s Ataxia Study Open for Enrollment

Retrotope recently announced a second clinical trial site, the Collaborative Neuroscience Network, LLC (CNS), has opened in Long Beach, California, as part of the company’s ongoing 28-day, first-in-human randomized, double-blind, controlled, ascending dose study of orally dosed experimental therapy RT001. The study will evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics (PK), disease state and exploratory endpoints in…

Friedreich Ataxia Biomarker Found to Exist in Platelets

In a recent study, entitled “Stable isotopes and LC–MS for monitoring metabolic disturbances in Friedreich’s ataxia platelets” and published in the journal Bioanalysis, U.S. researchers show that platelets from Friedreich’s ataxia patients can be used as a biomarker of the disease and as a tool to investigate…

Frataxin Level Correlates With Friedreich’s Ataxia Severity

Although the basis of Friedreich’s ataxia lies in a genome-wide mutation in the frataxin gene that encodes the frataxin protein, not all tissues are affected by the disease. Some tissues function adequately, while others such as neuronal and cardiac tissues suffer from degenerated ability to function. Researchers have found that…

shRNA Molecules Reverse Friedreich’s Ataxia in Cells

A screen of molecules known as short-hairpin-loop-RNA (shRNA) revealed that certain features of Friedreich’s ataxia can be relieved through two specific shRNA sequences. In the laboratory of Dr. Robert B. Wilson at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, researchers conducted a study that exposed cells isolated from Friedreich’s ataxia patients…

Patient Telomeres on DNA Involved in FRDA Pathogenesis

Often times, researchers focus on cells from the brain or the heart when studying Friedreich’s ataxia. A new study from Brunel University London and University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom chose instead to focus on blood leukocytes and skin fibroblasts from patients with Friedreich’s ataxia. The reasoning was based…

Understanding Iron Balance is Vital to Treat Friedreich’s Ataxia

Maintaining iron balance in the mitochondria is of great importance to cell health and is a prominent area of study to understand Friedreich’s ataxia. Frataxin protein deficiency in Friedreich’s ataxia leads to accumulation of iron in the mitochondria, leading to extensive reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage and cell death. A group…

Tests Reveal Cardiomyopathy Associated With Freidreich’s Ataxia

Patients with Friedreich’s ataxia are at a high risk for developing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the walls of the heart become thicker than normal. Little is known about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy disease progression in Friedreich’s ataxia patients, although the condition can be severely life-limiting. To address this lack…

Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance Enters Venture Network

The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN) has invited nonprofit organization Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), which works nationwide to support research and find a cure for the rare neuromuscular disease Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), to join its network of organizations. The program was launched in 2005 by FasterCures and…

DNA Mutation Induced By Friedreich’s Ataxia Repeats

A long string of DNA repeats are the molecular basis for Friedreich’s ataxia. The beginning of the first intron of FXN, the gene encoding the protein frataxin, has an abnormally large number of GAA repeats in Friedreich’s ataxia patients compared to normal individuals. A large body of evidence shows that…

Horizon’s FA Therapy Granted FDA Fast Track Designation

Specialty biopharmaceutical Horizon Pharma plc has been awarded Fast Track status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the company’s ACTIMMUNE (interferon gamma-1b) to be used in patients with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA). ACTIMMUNE is a biologically developed protein resembling one produced naturally by the body to prevent infection,…

Inhibiting Iron Transport Improves FA in Fruit Flies

A research group in Germany at University of Regensburg that considers Friedreich’s ataxia “the most important recessive ataxia in the Caucasian population” is breaking down the complex disease using genetically modified fruit flies. Appearing in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, their most…

BioBlast Pharma Announces Promising Preclinical Results on a New Therapy for Friedreich’s Ataxia

Biotechnology company BioBlast Pharma Ltd. recently announced in a press release that its mitochondrial protein replacement therapy drug candidate (BB-FA) for Friedreich’s ataxia has yielded positive results in a preclinical in vitro and in vivo proof-of-concept study. The results were presented during the International Ataxia Research Conference recently…