Research

Strategy

Ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay Foundation

In 2006, the Foundation was created and funded the first research to be undertaken since the identification of the Ataxia gene in 2000. It was crucial to begin research in order to discover a treatment for Autosomal Recessive Spastic Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS).

Since its creation, the Foundation has funded several research projects related to this neurological disorder. The Foundation is a charitable organization with no employees and is supported entirely by private donations and volunteers who support the cause. The total administration costs are less than 2% of the funds raised which allow almost all the funds to be totally dedicated to research.

Research Objectives

The main research objective of the Ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay Foundation is to develop a treatment for ARSACS. Every year the Foundation financed several research projects  in Canada and abroad. The efforts of the Foundation are concentrated currently in three main research areas:

  • Financing of several promissing research projects with reearchers that are experts in this field.
  • Conducting  clinical trials
  • Forming partnerships with other organizations and pharmaceutical companies to further the understanding of this disease and conduct independent research.

Research Grants

To further encourage and accelerate the development of a treatment for ARSACS, the Foundation provides grants and opportunities to researchers.The research grant could be as high as $100,000 for a 12 month period and could be renewed for a second year. It should be noted that the grant funding from the Foundation  cannot be used to cover indirect costs. See  Financing Offer and  ARSACS Appendix.

Scientific Advisory Board 

All applications for research grants are evaluated by the Scientific Advisory Board of the Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay Foundation according to specific criteria. 

Current ARSACS Research Projects for 2021-2022

“Corticospinal tract microstructural integrity and its correlation with clinical and molecular biomarkers: a profilometry MRI study to identify in-vivo biomarkers of disease severity in ARSACS”- Dr. Sirio Cocozza

Patients with autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS) encounter symptoms that affect their walking ability. Among these, they show abnormal tensing of the muscles (spasticity), which partly derives from the disruption of a bundle of fibers...

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“Charting the neurodevelopmental stage of ARSACS (NeurodevARSACS): A cross-species longitudinal characterization of the early molecular changes in the brain, CSF and blood” – Drs. Justin Wolter, Matthis Synofzik & David Mengel

It is well established in neurodegenerative diseases that early therapeutic intervention - ideally before neurodegenerative cascades begin to breakdown neuronal function - is key to the success of disease-modifying therapies. Yet we do not understand the early...

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“Évaluer l’efficacité d’un programme de réadaptation à domicile visant l’amélioration des atteintes motrices, de l’équilibre, de la mobilité, des chutes et des activités courantes chez les personnes atteintes d’ARSACS” – Dre Elise Duchesne

  L’ataxie récessive spastique de Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS) est une maladie incurable caractérisée par plusieurs déficiences motrices progressives apparaissant dès l’enfance. Bien que les atteintes soient majeures, entraînant de grandes difficultés à marcher...

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Research Project Reports

June, 2022 - “Molecular characterisation of sacsin deficient cells” - Dr. Paul Chapple, Barts and London Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK

Research report from Dr. Paul Chapple from the Barts and London Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, London UK.  The overall project funded by the Foundation was over a 3 year period.

June, 2022 - “Structural Determination and Super Resolution Imaging of Sacsin” - Dr. Houry from Universty of Toronto

“Structural Determination and Super Resolution Imaging of Sacsin” research report under the leadership of Dr. Houry from the University of Toronto and funded by the Foundation in 2021-2022.

April, 2022 - “Discovery of new targets for therapeutic interventions in ARSACS disease”- Krogan Lab’s report

“Discovery of new targets for therapeutic interventions in ARSACS disease”, project report under the leadership of Dr. Nevan Krogan at UCSF. Project funded by the Foundation in 2020-2021.

October, 2020 - “Towards the Structural Determination of Sacsin”- Dr. W. Houry

“Towards the Structural Determination of Sacsin”,  a 2 year project funded by the Foundation. This is Dr Houry’s report for the first year (2019-2020).

Partnerships

The Ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay Foundation is always looking for opportunities to work in partnership with other organizations and pharmaceutical companies to further the understanding of this disease and conduct independent research.

PROSPAX Project

The Ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay Foundation is one of the 3 patient advocacy organisations participating in the PROgression chart of SPAstic ataXias (PROSPAX) research project. PROPSPAX, a 3 year project launched in September 2020, is a novel collaborative effort between several neurologists across Canada and Europe. 
It is an unique opportunity for patients to have their voice heard by researchers, to make sure that the questions they are trying to answer are the ones that are important to a person living with the condition. The PROSPAX project will focus on two conditions – ARSACS and SPG7.

Project description.

 

TREAT-ARCA Project

The Foundation is pleased to represent  the ARSACS patients on the research project entitled “Designing a toolbox of paradigmatic treatments for a targeted molecular medicine approach to autosomal-recessive ataxias” and referrred to TREAT-ARCA

The TREAT-ARCA project, which began in June 2021, is a preclinical research project focused on two rare ataxias: Autosomal Recessive Spastic Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS) and COQ8A-ataxia (also known as Autosomal Recessive Cerebellar Ataxia type 2 ARCA2). This 3-year project received funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The specific objective is the pre-clinical-research to develop effective therapies for rare diseases. It aims at designing and testing new complementary treatment strategies, including both repurposed and newly identified molecules, as well as gene therapies in two exemplary multisystemic flagship ARSACS  and COQ8A-ataxia (ARCA2).

Project description.

 

Critical Path to Therapeutics for the Ataxias  consortium project

The Foundation is a member of the Critical Path to Therapeutics for the Ataxias (CPTA) consortium as a patient advocacy group.

The consortium, launched in February 2021, is a public-private partnership focused on optimizing clinical trials for inherited ataxias. It involves the participation of government regulatory and  research agencies, academia, patient organizations, and bio-pharmaceutical companies.​

C-Path is an independent nonprofit organization created to improve the drug development process.

Preclinical and Clinical Trials

The Foundation is ready to conduct preclinical and clinical trials. It has the expertise and the tools available. Furthermore, the existing International ARSACS Patient Registry is a good source of potential patients interested in participating in such a trial.

Research tools available

Sacs Knock Out mouse (# 033221)

Sacs Knock In R272C mouse (# 033385)

Two iPS cell lines are available for research, 1 female and 1male. These cells are derived from samples taken from people diagnosed with ARSACS (both are homozygous c.8844delT). They have been  generated by the Sendai virus method.

 

CONFERENCES 

International Congress for Ataxia Research Nov 1-4, 2022

The National Ataxia Foundation (NAF), the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), and Ataxia UK are pleased to announce that the  International Congress for Ataxia Research (ICAR)will  be held in Dallas, Texas, USA on November 1-4, 2022.

Delegates may be interested in attending both conferences as the programs are distinct and complimentary to each other.

The Foundation is encouraging the ARSACS researchers  to submit  an abstract on ARSACS. This is an important opportunity for the researcher and for the Foundation.

Abstract Submission Deadline: June 13, 2022

Ataxia Global Initiative Conference on Nov 4-5, 2022

The Ataxia Global Initiative (AGI) Conference will be held  in Dallas, Texas, USA on November 4-5, 2022.

The AGI conference brings together academia, industry as well as patient advocacy organisations and will focus on trial-readiness for ataxias.

The Foundation is enncouraging the ARSACS researchers  to submit  an abstract on ARSACS.

Abstract Submission Deadline: June 13, 2022.

ARSACS International Symposium, Fall 2023

Unique opportunity: ARSACS International Symposium to be held in Fall, 2023. Details to come.

Publications on ARSACS

March 28, 2022 - "Recessive cerebellar and afferent Ataxias - clinical challenges and future directions"

“Recessive cerebellar and afferent Ataxias – clinical challenges and future directions”, research article by Dr. Nicolas Dupré and his team published in the Nature Reviews | Neurology journal on March 24, 2022.

January 24, 2022 - "Sacsin Deletion Induces Aggregation of Glial Intermediate Filaments"

  Sacsin Deletion Induces Aggregation of Glial Intermediate Filaments” , research done by Dr. Federico Herrera and his team in Portugal, published in the Cells Journal on January 16, 2022.

December, 2021 - "Hsp90 Inhibition: A Promising Therapeutic Approach for ARSACS"

 Drs. Suran Nethisingle and Paola Giunti’s research entitled Hsp90 Inhibition: A Promising Therapeutic Approach for ARSACS” published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine in October 2021

December, 2021 - “Molecular identiy and location influence Purkinje cell vulnerability in ARSACS mice"

Molecular identity and location influence Purkinje cell vulnerability in ARSACS mice” article  by Drs Watt and Mckinney published in the Frontiers Journal. 

October 21, 2021 - “Functional mobility in walking adult population with ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay”

“Functional mobility in walking adult population with ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay” Research done by Dr C. Gagnon and her team published in Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. First study to focus on adult walkers with ARSACS.

October 16, 2021 -"Assessment of sacsin turnover in ARSACS patients: implications for molecular diagnosis and pathogenesis”
September 9, 2021 -"The ataxia protein sacsin is required for integrin trafficking and synaptic organization"
March, 2021 -"Retinal Architecture in Autosomal Recessive Spastic Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS): Insights into Disease Pathogenesis and Biomarkers
February, 2021 -"Ciliary Ganglioplegic Migraine Associated with SACS Mutation"

“Ciliary Ganglioplegic Migraine Associated with SACS Mutation”  article published by researchers from Republic of Korea  in Journal of Ophtalmology and Visual Sciences 

February 19, 2021 -"From fuzziness to precision medicine : on the rapidly evolving proteomics with implications in mitochondrial connectivity to rare human disease"
December 23, 2020 - "Docosahexaenoic acid in ARSACS: observations in 2 patients"

 “Docosahexaenoic acid in ARSACS: observations in 2 patients” published in BMC Neurology. The article does not necessarily reflect the views and positions of the Foundation. It engages solely the author.

December 22, 2020 - "Case Report: Expanding the Genetic and Phenotypic Spectrum of Autosomal Recessive Spatic Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay""

ARSACS_in_Iran_case_report article published in Frontiers in Genetics. 

December 17, 2020 - "The importance of balancing Sacsin protein levels in ARSACS"
October 13, 2020 - An excellent source of information on ARSACS published in the GeneReviews

An excellent source of information on ARSACS published in the GeneReviews. GeneReviews is an online database containing peer-reviewed articles that describe specific diseases. 

February 14, 2020 - "A new measuring stick for ARSACS"

“A new measuring stick for ARSACS” by Dr. Cynthia Gagnon  published in the SCA Source.

October 23, 2018 - “Sacsin, mutated in ataxia ARSACS, regulates intermediate filament assembly and dynamics”

Sacsin, mutated in ataxia ARSACS, regulates intermediate filament assembly and dynamics” by Dr. Benoit Gentil published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal (FASEBJ).

September 19, 2018 - "From motor performance to participation: a quantitative descriptive study in adults with autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay"
August 29, 2018 - "An exploratory natural history of ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay"

An exploratory natural history of ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay“, Dr Cynthia Gagnon, American Academy of Neurology.

June 21, 2018 - "Altered synaptic and firing properties of cerebellar Purkinje cells in a mouse model of ARSACS"

Altered synaptic and firing properties of cerebellar Purkinje cells in a mouse model of ARSACS“, Dr Anne McKinney and Dr Alanna Watt, The Journal of Physiology.

May 29, 2017 - A research paper looking at the cytoskeleton in cells cultured from ARSACS patients

 research paper  by Dr. Paul Chapple published in the Human Molecular Genetics journal looking at the cytoskeleton in cells cultured from ARSACS patients. 

List of publications from 1979 to January 19, 2019

List of publications on ARSACS from 1979 to January 19,2019