Xinnan Wang Lab awarded grant for Friedreich's Ataxia research

February 14, 2022

Congratulations to Xinnan Wang, MD, PhD, who was awarded a grant from the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance. Her research project is titled, "Novel Mitochondrial Targets for Friedreich’s Ataxia."

Dr. Wang seeks to target the oxidative stress in Friedreich's Ataxia (FA) cells in a new way. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are highly reactive molecules normally produced in the cells by many reactions, but when allowed to accumulate, as is the case for FA, they can induce damage and eventually cell death. Dr. Wang proposes a new therapeutic strategy for FA that instead of reducing ROS, targets the consequences of elevated ROS inside the cell, that cause cell damage.

Dr. Wang and her group discovered that high ROS levels cause impairment of a mechanism that is important to recycle mitochondria and found molecules that can target this mechanism and restore mitochondrial recycling. Dr. Wang provided evidence that targeting this pathway rescues the phenotype of a fruit fly model of FA and improves survival of FA cells. With this work she aims to validate novel therapeutic targets and test small molecules that could be translated into disease-modifying therapies.

The goal of the Xinnan Wang Lab is to understand the regulatory mechanisms controlling mitochondrial dynamics and function and the mechanisms by which even subtle perturbations of these processes may contribute to neurodegenerative disorders.

Xinnan Wang, MD, PhD