Fragile X Awareness Day Origins and a Tribute

Fragile X Awareness Day Origins and a Tribute

July 22 is National Fragile X Awareness Day, but I’ll bet few know the history behind it.

In 2000, before there was such a thing as a Fragile X Advocacy Day, FRAXA Research Foundation and David Busby (husband to Mary Beth, father to two adult sons living with Fragile X, a member of FRAXA’s pioneering leadership team, and a prominent and politically well-connected DC lawyer) were running Fragile X advocacy in Washington, DC.

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Boston Bruins Grant Funds New Fragile X Research

Boston Bruins Grant Funds New Fragile X Research

Bruins Foundation Executive Director Bob Sweeney pledging a $90,000 donation to FRAXA Research today at Shared Living Collaborative’s Gateway Farm in Merrimac, MA. The award will enable the organization to fund an entirely new research project aimed at developing new treatments for Fragile X, a genetic syndrome that is the most common inherited cause of autism.

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FRAXA Grant to Nahum Sonenberg, PhD — Effects of metformin in Fmr1 knockout mouse model of Fragile X syndrome

FRAXA Grant to Nahum Sonenberg, PhD — Effects of metformin in Fmr1 knockout mouse model of Fragile X syndrome

Mis-regulation of activity-dependent protein synthesis is one of the major cellular abnormalities found in Fragile X. Upstream neuronal signaling regulates a large cluster of enzymes called the mTORC1 complex, which in turn regulates protein synthesis. This complex is also controlled by cellular energy levels via the metabolic sensor AMP-activated Protein Kinase (AMPK). AMPK is a highly conserved kinase that is activated under conditions of energy stress, when intracellular ATP levels decline and intracellular AMP increases.

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Functional Interplay Between FMRP and CDK5 Signaling

Functional Interplay Between FMRP and CDK5 Signaling

FRAXA awarded $180,000 to Yue Feng, PhD of Emory University School of Medicine with Wenqi Li, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow. Decades of investigation established the role of FMRP in binding its mRNA targets and regulating translation in response to neuronal and synaptic activity changes. Exciting discoveries on two receptors, mGluR5 and GABA, signaling in FXS animal models have led to promising therapeutic approaches based on variation of synaptic activity by mGluR5 antagonists and GABA agonists. However, clinical trials only achieved partial reverse of FXS phenotype. Thus, developing additional therapeutic strategies for treating the full spectrum of FXS symptoms are still pressing challenges.

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Makenzie Cote’s Page

Makenzie Cote’s Page

Makenzie is our lovely angel. Life is surely challenging for her and for us as parents raising a child with special needs. She has some developmental delays with a high level of anxiety. She loves going to school every day and she plays many sports like her peers in a league for children with disabilities. We are truly hoping for a cure to increase her quality of life like all the children deserve on this earth. We want her to be happy and proud of herself as much that we are of her. In 2008, our family in Canada started a fundraiser to raise money for the Fragile X research. They started making all kind of crafts and selling them. All the profits are sent to FRAXA in honor of our daughter who was diagnosed at 16 months old with Fragile X syndrome.

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Tori Schaefer, PhD — Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Tori Schaefer, PhD — Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

FRAXA Research Foundation awards $21,000 in 2013 to Dr. Schaeffer to analyze an investigational new compound that targets the GABA-A receptor. This study has led to a clinical trial of the compound, led by Dr. Craig Erickson at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Of the many genes known to be regulated by FMRP, the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor A (GABA(A)), is gaining attention as a potential target for the treatment of FXS. Mounting evidence suggests decreased expression and functioning of GABA(A) is involved in the pathophysiology of FXS.

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Justin Cowan, PhD — University of Chile

Justin Cowan, PhD — University of Chile

FRAXA Awards $50,000 in 2011 and $50,000 in 2010 to Patricia Cogram, PhD for treatment of Fragile X syndrome via Dopamine Enhancers and Glutamate Inhibitors. This project aims to follow up our and others observations that the dopamine receptor is under expressed in the Fragile X syndrome and thus determine the effectiveness of targeted pharmacological treatments in Fragile X syndrome.

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Spreading Sunshine

When a woman named Doris Buffett decided to embrace us, her warmth spread over us like a blanket, and the impact of her presence was immediate. As mothers and fathers of Fragile X children, we felt encouraged by the light Doris cast our way. We felt honored that the Sunshine Lady and her Foundation directors chose to invest in our children and our future. We were reinvigorated because of her generous financial support and her profound vision. Doris called FRAXA “The Gold Standard” in grass roots charities and donated more than $3 million to FRAXA in challenge grants. With our deepest gratitude, we are once again thanking Doris Buffett’s Sunshine Lady Foundation for her latest gift.

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Fragile X Research Grants and Fellowships Funded 2011

In 2011, FRAXA awarded $1,054,286 in Fragile X Research. Each year FRAXA holds a competition to find – and fund – the most promising new projects aimed at discovering targeted, effective treatments – and ultimately a cure – for Fragile X and related autism spectrum disorders. Each team has a page on this website with details. Our competitive grant-making process ensures that the best and most innovative research gets supported, that new scientists join the Fragile X field, and most important – that we get closer to a cure. FRAXA aims to advance the kind of translational research that is most likely to lead to improved treatment.

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FRAXA 2010 Research Awards Funded

Program Grants and new Postdoctoral Fellowships total over $1.5 million this year. We are very pleased to announce FRAXA 2010 awards. Projects can be viewed at the Research Reports section of this website. These scientists have demonstrated outstanding potential of their FRAXA projects in detailed applications. We aim to help them work toward new treatments for Fragile X. Their projects are at the cutting edge of biomedical technology, and we believe that their work will make a real difference to everyone affected by Fragile X.

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3 Researchers Honored at FRAXA Investigators Meeting

Over 150 scientists from around the globe gathered in Durham, New Hampshire, for FRAXA Research Foundation’s Investigators Meeting on September 21-24, 2008. They came from Australia, Canada, India, Turkey, the U.S., and eight European countries. Their common goal: “to share, collaborate and publish,” in the words of FRAXA’s Medical Director, Michael Tranfaglia, MD, to find effective treatments and a cure for Fragile X, the foremost inherited cause of mental retardation and autism. Most of the attendees were university-based professors, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students who have FRAXA research grants. Also participating in the meeting were scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIMH, NICHD, and NINDS), Neuropharm Group PLC, Hoffman LaRoche Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, Indevus, and Seaside Therapeutics, as well as 20 parents of Fragile X children.

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Doris Buffett’s Challenge Grant to FRAXA: Over $1.5 Million for Research!

Doris Buffett’s Challenge Grant to FRAXA: Over $1.5 Million for Research!

In the Spring of 2007, Doris Buffett, president of the Sunshine Lady Foundation, challenged FRAXA to raise $500,000 in new funds by November 1 which she’d match. The grand total of new donations received was $1,424,562, with an additional $98,755 in pledges payable by March 1st, for a total of $1,523,317! Together with Ms. Buffett’s initial $500,000 gift, FRAXA received over $3.5 million in new money — all for research aimed at curing or treating Fragile X. Thanks so very much to all of you who helped make this happen. More than 2600 people donated toward the Challenge – it is a true grass-roots community success.

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FRAXA Invited to The White House, Celebrating The Children’s Health Act

FRAXA Invited to The White House, Celebrating The Children’s Health Act

On short notice, Katie Clapp and Mary Beth and David Busby hurried to attend the January 4th White House ceremony celebrating the bipartisan enactment of the Children’s Health Act of 2000, which boosts federal funding of research on children’s diseases, including Fragile X. This was a rare, unforgettable opportunity to meet both (now, former) President and Senator Clinton in “The Blue Room,” along with several members of Congress.

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