FXS Patients’ Social Deficits are Linked to Social Anxiety, Eye-tracking Study Says

FXS Patients’ Social Deficits are Linked to Social Anxiety, Eye-tracking Study Says

Dr. Craig Erickson and colleagues at the University of Cincinnati used eye-tracking technology to understand sociability in Fragile X syndrome. This study affirms what so many parents, caretakers, and educators suspect: people with fragile X want to be social, and it is anxiety – not lack of interest – which usually hold them back. If anxiety could be reduced, more sociability would likely follow. Dr. Erickson is a Fragile X expert and FRAXA investigator who is currently conducting a Fragile X clinical trial of an investigational new drug.

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Recruiting: Clinical Study of EEG for Young Boys and Girls at Boston Children’s Hospital

Recruiting: Clinical Study of EEG for Young Boys and Girls at Boston Children’s Hospital

Dr. Carol Wilkinson, MD PhD, and Dr. Charles Nelson, PhD, at the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital are recruiting young boys (2-7 years) with Fragile X syndrome (FXS) to participate in a study investigating how differences in brain activity affect learning, language, and behavior in FXS.

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Tetra Announces $40M to Advance BPN14770 for FXS and Alzheimer’s Disease

Tetra Announces $40M to Advance BPN14770 for FXS and Alzheimer’s Disease

Tetra Discovery Partners has signed a multi-part deal that could bring it up to $160 million, plus royalties, from Shionogi & Co, Ltd, a Japanese major research-driven pharmaceutical company. Tetra currently is conducting an investigational Phase 2 study of BPN14770 in adults with Fragile X Syndrome, an indication for which BPN14770 has received Orphan Drug Designation from the US Food and Drug Administration. This clinical trial was made possible by early work with the FRAXA-DVI and over $200,000 from FRAXA.

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Non-Invasive Imaging as a Biomarker for Future Fragile X Clinical Trials

Non-Invasive Imaging as a Biomarker for Future Fragile X Clinical Trials

FRAXA Research Foundation has renewed Kamilla Castro’s 2017 FRAXA Fellowship for a second year. With this $90,000 award, Kamilla Castro and Principal Investigator Dr. Andreas Frick are using non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methodology to assess connectivity changes in the brain in Fragile X. If this project is successful, we will have objective outcome measures to evaluate new treatments, both in mice bred to mimic Fragile X and in human patients.

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Mega Green Tea Extract to Treat Fragile X?

Mega Green Tea Extract to Treat Fragile X?

Green tea is thought to have many benefits, particularly in cognitive function. In 2012-14, FRAXA Research Foundation funded a clinical trial to assess the effects of EGCG (green tea extract) on cognitive function in adults with FXS. Drs. Rafael de la Torre and Mara Dierssen Sotos, principal researchers in Barcelona, Spain, reported memory, attention, and mental flexibility improvements.

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How Promising is CRISPR for Fragile X?

How Promising is CRISPR for Fragile X?

Peter Todd, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology in the University of Michigan Medical School, was recently awarded a FRAXA Research Grant for gene reactivation with the use of CRISPR. In this interview he tells us about CRISPR in Fragile X research, how realistic is it that it could turn the Fragile X gene back on, and if it can really be a cure for Fragile X.

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Retinoic Acid Signaling is Blocked by Fragile X Mutation

Retinoic Acid Signaling is Blocked by Fragile X Mutation

With a 2013-2014 FRAXA Research Grant, Principal Investigator Marius Wernig, PhD and FRAXA Fellow Samuele Marro, PhD at Stanford University found that the Fragile X mutation impairs homeostatic plasticity in human neurons, by blocking synaptic retinoic acid signaling. Retinoic acid is a metabolite of Vitamin A. The system they have developed could provide a powerful new cellular biomarker for screening many treatment approaches.

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Aripiprazole as a Treatment for Fragile X Syndrome

Aripiprazole as a Treatment for Fragile X Syndrome

Many medications are used to help people with Fragile X cope. But few clinical trials have been done on these drugs. Years ago FRAXA funded Dr. Craig Erickson to run a trial of aripiprazole (aka Abilify). FRAXA guest writer Hannah Miles recently caught up with Dr. Erickson to learn the results of the trial.

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Lysogene Partners with FRAXA Investigator Dr. Hervé Moine to Develop Gene Therapy for Fragile X

Lysogene Partners with FRAXA Investigator Dr. Hervé Moine to Develop Gene Therapy for Fragile X

A research project funded by FRAXA has led to new fragile x gene therapy initiative, this time in France. Lysogene, a French biopharmaceutical company working to develop gene therapy treatments for brain disorders, is partnering with FRAXA Investigator Dr. Herve Moine to tackle Fragile X syndrome.

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FRAXA Research Grants Drive Big Investments in Fragile X

FRAXA Research Grants Drive Big Investments in Fragile X

Most people know that FRAXA supports academic research at many institutions such as Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University. However, FRAXA is also working with more than 30 pharmaceutical companies around the world. Mike spends a lot of his time advising and collaborating with industry partners.

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CRISPR Reactivation of the Fragile X Gene

CRISPR Reactivation of the Fragile X Gene

“We are trying to target the first event that goes wrong in Fragile X syndrome”, says Todd, “One reason our previous attempts to develop treatments for Fragile X syndrome have failed is that they’ve tried to target the downstream effects of losing the Fragile X protein. The protein does many things… bypassing all the functions that it normally takes care of has proven difficult from a pharmacologic perspective.”

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Drug Repurposing Study Results Accelerate Progress Towards Fragile X Treatments

Drug Repurposing Study Results Accelerate Progress Towards Fragile X Treatments

While there are over 8,000 rare diseases affecting an estimated 350 million people worldwide, only around 200 of these conditions have effective treatments. Due to the high cost of developing new drugs, rare diseases have historically been less attractive to pharmaceutical companies. Drug repurposing systematically leverages the detailed information available on approved drugs and reduces the time and money needed to deliver safe “new” treatments, but with greater success rates and a potentially more immediate impact on health care.

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In Their Own Words: Reports From the International Fragile X Workshop

In Their Own Words: Reports From the International Fragile X Workshop

The 18th International Fragile X and Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders Workshop in Quebec, Canada, was a great success, featuring Fragile X much more heavily than any previous meeting in this series! We asked our speakers to summarize their work in their own words. These brief updates from researchers investigating Fragile X.

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Brain Imbalance Target of Dr. Erickson’s New Clinical Trial

Brain Imbalance Target of Dr. Erickson’s New Clinical Trial

According to Dr. Erickson, AZD7325 is a drug that selectively boosts GABA neurotransmission in the brain. GABA is the primary neurochemical in the brain that blocks brain activation. GABA activity is in balance in the brain with Glutamate activity, which is the primary neurochemical that causes brain activation. In Fragile X, GABA activity is insufficient and glutamate activity is excessive, likely causing brain activity to be out of balance. AZD7325 attempts to correct parts of this imbalance by boosting the insufficient GABA activity in the brains of people with Fragile X

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Fragile X in the Forefront of International Conference

Fragile X in the Forefront of International Conference

Today the 18th International Fragile X and Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders Workshop kicks off in Quebec, Canada. For the next six days, scientists from around the world will gather at this workshop to focus on recent breakthroughs in our understanding of Fragile X, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and related neurodevelopmental disorders. This biennial meeting has been instrumental to the discovery of many disease-causing genes and the development of therapeutic strategies for these disorders.

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Neural Markers of Fragile X: A Powerful New Tool for Clinical Trials

Neural Markers of Fragile X: A Powerful New Tool for Clinical Trials

Once the neural marker is identified for a particular challenge, such as kids with poor language versus good language, neural markers can be measured during drug and behavioral therapy trials to see if a child is improving based on objective biological measures.

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Targeting Serotonin Receptors to Treat Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms

Targeting Serotonin Receptors to Treat Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms

With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation awarded in 2017, Dr. Clinton Canal targets seratonin receptors. “There are 15 unique serotonin receptors (at least) and many of them impact the function of brain circuits that are impaired in neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders,” said Dr. Canal. “Results from this project could guide new drug discovery or drug repurposing for Fragile X.”

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Metformin, Diabetes Drug, Potential Fragile X Treatment

Metformin, Diabetes Drug, Potential Fragile X Treatment

“We treated mice with metformin and corrected all the core Fragile X deficits. We are optimistic about using metformin in human clinical trials. This is a generic drug with few side effects” says Nahum Sonenberg, PhD, James McGill Professor, Department of Biochemistry, McGill Cancer Center, McGill University.

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