"We have known for some time that, at a molecular level, SCA2 is caused by glutamine repeat mutations in the ataxin-2 gene, but the exact mechanism of Purkinje cell degeneration is not well understood," says Stefan-M. Pulst, MD, University of Utah professor and chair of neurology, member of the Brain Institute at the University of Utah, and contributor author on this study. Pulst's group also discovered the ataxin-2 gene in 1996.

The glutamine repeat mutations found in SCA2 are also found in other neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington disease (HD) and spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3). It is commonly assumed that these disorders share a common pathogenic mechanism. Ilya Bezprozvanny, PhD, associate professor of physiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and his group had previously uncovered evidence that deranged calcium signaling played an important role in the pathology of HD and SCA3, so they thought that abnormal calcium signaling might also be involved in SCA2.

Calcium signaling refers to the movement or release of calcium ions as a form of cellular communication. Bezprozvanny and his colleagues demonstrated that the mutant ataxin-2 gene strongly associated with an intracellular calcium release channel, increasing the sensitivity of the channel to activation. They also found that enhanced calcium signaling contributed to the death of Purkinje cells in cell culture, but this effect could be attenuated by dantrolene, a stabilizer of intracellular calcium signaling. Bezprozvanny and his colleagues then approached Pulst, who had developed a mouse model of SCA2, in order to test whether these results could be replicated in genetically modified mice.

Source/read more: http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/554394/

Source: University of Utah Health Sciences
 Released: Mon 20-Jul-2009, 14:00 ET
Embargo expired: Tue 21-Jul-2009, 08:00 ET 

The legacy of Marie Schlau: literature to help cure Friedreich's Ataxia

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.

Paperback and Kindle versions for "The legacy of Marie Schlau" available for sale at Amazon now!



Research projects currently being financed by BabelFAmily

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.



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