Progress in understanding Friedreich's ataxia using human induced pluripotent stem cells

Expert Opinion on Orphan Drugs
Anna M SchreiberMarek Napierala


Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) is an autosomal recessive multisystem disease mainly affecting the peripheral and central nervous systems, and heart. FRDA is caused by a GAA repeat expansion in the first intron of the frataxin (FXN) gene, that leads to reduced expression of FXN mRNA and frataxin protein. Neuronal and cardiac cells are primary targets of frataxin deficiency and generating models via differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) into these cell types is essential for progress towards developing therapies for FRDA. This review is focused on modeling FRDA using human iPSCs and various iPSC-differentiated cell types. We emphasized the importance of patient and corrected isogenic cell line pairs to minimize effects caused by biological variability between individuals. The versatility of iPSC-derived cellular models of FRDA is advantageous for developing new therapeutic strategies, and rigorous testing in such models will be critical for approval of the first treatment for FRDA. Creating a well-characterized and diverse set of iPSC lines, including appropriate isogenic controls, will facilitate achieving this goal. Also, improvement of differentiation protocols, especially towards proprioceptive sensory neurons...Continue Reading


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