With $81,000 from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Elizabeth Jonas and Dr. Richard Levy at Yale explored whether Bcl-xL inhibitors could be useful in patients with fragile X and other autism spectrum disorders.
Richard Levy, PhD
Scientists have found increases in the numbers of neurons in brain regions of autistic children, suggesting a problem in developmental programmed cell death pathways. One of the most important effectors of neuronal survival during brain development is the “anti-cell death” protein Bcl-xL. While the normal function of Bcl-xL is to maintain a healthy number of neurons and synapses, over-expressed Bcl-xL can cause an overabundance of synaptic connections. This may be happening in fragile X.