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Patients and scientists join forces to tackle Friedreich's Ataxia
Date:11/14/2013

Rare Diseases (CIBERER).

The physician Daz-Nido is a world authority on ataxias, having devoted more than ten years to studying Friedreich's Ataxia at the molecular level and developing techniques to make gene therapy a reality. "The last ten years have witnessed great advances in gene therapy thanks to the contributions of hundreds of scientists worldwide. The last step is still pending for it to become a clinical option, but we are beginning to envisage that gene therapy will be possible for the treatment of such diseases of genetic origin," maintains Daz-Nido.

OVERCOMING THE BRAIN BARRIER

The brain is protected by the blood-brain barrier. This barrier serves to prevent toxic substances from entering the brain but it also obstructs the entry of therapeutic drugs. In this regard, collaboration with Ernest Giralt is critical. Prof. Giralt, head of the group "Design, synthesis and structure of peptides and proteins" and coordinator of the Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Programme at IRB Barcelona, has extensive experience and his expertise in peptide chemistry and drug delivery systems is internationally recognised. His laboratory has generated and satisfactorily tested a set of shuttle peptides able to cross the blood-brain barrier. "Our main goal is to adapt our shuttles to the vectors carrying the frataxin gene to enable them to cross the blood-brain barrier and then enter the nuclei of the cells of the nervous system," explains Meritxell Teixid, associate researcher at IRB Barcelona and responsible for this research line.

The joint research project begins in November 2013 and will last for three years. During this time, the team of scientists hopes to prepare the proof-of-concept that will allow the leap from basic lab research to preclinical trials in more sophisticated animal models and advancement towards a gene therapy for Friedreich's Ataxia.


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Contact: Sònia Armengou
armengou@irbbarcelona.org
34-934-037-255
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Source:Eurekalert  

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