MDA has awarded a research grant totaling $625,959 over a period of three years to Des Richardson, professor and senior principal research fellow at the University of Sydney (Australia) School of Medical Sciences. The funds will help support Richardson's continued research into iron metabolism in Friedreich's ataxia (FA).
The aim of Richardson's studies is to examine the role of altered iron metabolism in the cellular energy factories called mitochondria.
Using molecular and cellular models, as well as a research mouse model that closely mimics the neurodegeneration and heart problems observed in people with FA, Richardson and colleagues will test a variety of strategies designed to help elucidate the function of frataxin, the protein that’s deficient in this disease.
The team also will test a new experimental therapy designed to replace or bypass the function of frataxin by getting iron to the mitochondria in a form that can be easily utilized for the processes that are lacking when frataxin levels are inadequate.
"We gratefully acknowledge MDA funding," Richardson said. "The knowledge of these alterations is critical for developing new therapeutics that could replace the function of this molecule in patients."
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2011.