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Published March 23, 2012
Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) is the most common hereditary ataxia, affecting approximately 3 in 100,000 individuals in Caucasian populations. It is caused by intronic GAA repeat expansions that hinder the expression of the FXN gene, resulting in defective levels of the mitochondrial protein frataxin. Sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) are particularly damaged by frataxin deficiency. There is no specific therapy for FRDA. Here we show that frataxin levels can be upregulated by interferon gamma (IFNgamma) in a variety of cell types, including primary cells derived from FRDA patients. IFNgamma appears to act largely through a transcriptional mechanism on the FXN gene. Importantly, in vivo treatment with IFNgamma increases frataxin expression in DRG neurons, prevents their pathological changes and ameliorates the sensorimotor performance in FRDA mice. These results disclose new roles for IFNgamma in cellular metabolism and have direct implications for the treatment of FRDA.
Hum. Mol. Genet. Open source full text link
If you feel like reading an unputdownable novel while collaborating with a just and solidary cause, "The Legacy of Marie Schlau" is your book! 100% of all funds raised will be dedicated to medical research to find a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia, a neurodegenerative disease that affects mostly young people, shortening their life expectancy and confining them to a wheelchair.
The life of Marie Schlau, a German Jewish girl born in 1833 hides great unsolved mysteries: accidents, disappearances, enigmas, unknown diagnoses, disturbing murders, love, tenderness, greed, lies, death ... alternatively a different story unfolds every time and takes us closer to the present. Thus, there are two parallel stories unravelling, each in a different age and place, which surprisingly converge in a revelatory chapter.
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Currently, BabelFAmily is financing two promising research projects aimed at finding a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia. Whenever you make a donation to us or purchase a copy of "The legacy of Marie Schlau", this is where all funds raised will be devoted to:
1) Gene Therapy for Friedreich's Ataxia research project:
The project is the result of an initiative of Spanish people affected by this rare disease who are grouped in GENEFA in collaboration with the Spanish Federation of Ataxias and the BabelFAmily. The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), one of the main patients’ associations in the United States now joins the endeavour.
2) Frataxin delivery research project:
The associations of patients and families Babel Family and the Asociación Granadina de la Ataxia de Friedreich (ASOGAF) channel 80,000 euros of their donations (50% from each organisation) into a new 18-month project at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). The project specifically aims to complete a step necessary in order to move towards a future frataxin replacement therapy for the brain, where the reduction of this protein causes the most damage in patients with Friedreich’s Ataxia.
The study is headed by Ernest Giralt, head of the Peptides and Proteins Lab, who has many years of experience and is a recognised expert in peptide chemistry and new systems of through which to delivery drugs to the brain, such as peptide shuttles—molecules that have the capacity to carry the drug across the barrier that surrounds and protects the brain. Since the lab started its relation with these patients’ associations in 2013*, it has been developing another two projects into Friedrich’s Ataxia.