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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Did Tolerance Result in Fragile X mGluR5 Clinical Trial Failures?

Did Tolerance Result in Fragile X mGluR5 Clinical Trial Failures?

Although the clinical trials failed to show efficacy in the patient population and Novartis and Roche discontinued their Fragile X development programs, Dr. Senter has worked with Mark Bear, PhD to carefully review parent observations. Those caregiver reports suggested tolerance to mGlu5 antagonists. Antagonists developed quickly, consistent with some preclinical findings in the mouse model.

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Repurposing Available Drugs to Treat Fragile X Syndrome – FRAXA Initiatives

Repurposing Available Drugs to Treat Fragile X Syndrome – FRAXA Initiatives

FRAXA Research Foundation was founded in 1994 to fund biomedical research aimed at finding a cure for Fragile X syndrome and, ultimately, autism. We prioritize translational research with the potential to lead to improved treatments for Fragile X in the near term. Our early efforts involved supporting a great deal of basic neuroscience to understand the cause of Fragile X. By 1996, these efforts had already begun to yield results useful for drug repurposing. To date, FRAXA has funded well over $25 million in research, with over $3 million of that for repurposing existing drugs for Fragile X.

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Fragile X Research Tackles High Anxiety – Peter Vanderklish

Fragile X Research Tackles High Anxiety – Peter Vanderklish

Yes, we all know the signs of Fragile X anxiety: Ears begin turning red followed by incessant pacing, heavy breathing, stiffening body, flapping, jumping, avoidance or yelling. Sometimes, it’s the more severe screaming, pinching, scratching, biting and general tearing things up or, worse, the nuclear meltdown.

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Trial and No Error: Better Outcomes for Clinical Trials in Fragile X Syndrome

Trial and No Error: Better Outcomes for Clinical Trials in Fragile X Syndrome

Johns Hopkins researcher Christina Timmerman, PhD, searches for a less subjective method to determine if a drug is working in patients with Fragile X syndrome. Many parents of children with Fragile X syndrome were crushed when promising drug trials were unexpectedly stopped a few years ago because subjective behavior-based outcome measures did not justify continuing the trials. The strong feelings linger today. If all goes well with Christina Timmerman’s research, future drug trials may be able to continue with additional metrics for assessment, until there are advanced treatments or even a cure for Fragile X syndrome.

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NIH Investigator Carolyn Beebe Smith, PhD, Looks to Improve Sleep in Fragile X Syndrome

NIH Investigator Carolyn Beebe Smith, PhD, Looks to Improve Sleep in Fragile X Syndrome

Our sons with Fragile X Syndrome typically go to bed early and rise early. Sometimes they jump on us while we are sleeping at 3 a.m., excited to start their day. For heaven’s sake, why? The answer may come from Carolyn Beebe Smith, PhD, senior investigator, Section on Neuroadaptation and Protein Metabolism, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. She is studying why children, in particularly boys, with FXS have problems sleeping.

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Mark Bear’s Goal: Disease-Modifying Treatments for Fragile X

Mark Bear’s Goal: Disease-Modifying Treatments for Fragile X

Researcher Mark Bear, PhD, Picower Professor of Neuroscience, sees success developing disease-modifying treatments for Fragile X syndrome and other developmental brain disorders. Finally, hope. And it comes from his lab, The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Kimberly Huber, PhD, Explores Hyperexcitability in Fragile X Syndrome

Kimberly Huber, PhD, Explores Hyperexcitability in Fragile X Syndrome

Ever wonder why your child with Fragile X suddenly screams for no apparent reason or jumps and flaps uncontrollably seemingly for hours? You got it: hyperexcitability. But what exactly causes it? And what can fix it? Kimberly Huber, PhD, is working long and hard in her lab to answer those questions. Dr. Huber, professor, Neuroscience, UT Southwestern Medical Center, is seeking to understand how FMRP regulates connections between brain cells, called synapses, and the function of brain circuits, which are several connected brain cells.

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Enhancement of NMDA Receptor Signaling for the Treatment of Fragile X Syndrome

Enhancement of NMDA Receptor Signaling for the Treatment of Fragile X Syndrome

FRAXA Research Foundation funded a 2016-2017 Fellowship for Dr. Stephanie Barnes in the University of Edinburgh lab of Dr. Emily Osterweil. With this $90,000 award, the team is investigating NMDA signaling in fragile X syndrome mice.

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Identifying Biomarkers for Fragile X Syndrome – A Study in Argentina

Identifying Biomarkers for Fragile X Syndrome – A Study in Argentina

Bio·mark·er, noun, a distinctive biological or biologically derived indicator of a process, event, or condition. Doesn’t help? Well, it’s perfectly clear to Argentinian researchers Patricia Cogram, PhD, and Paulina Carullo, MD, from the FLENI Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They understand there is an urgent need for validated biomarkers after recent Fragile X syndrome clinical trials have failed on their primary endpoints.

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Fulcrum Therapeutics Launched with $55 Million to Reactivate the Fragile X Gene

Fulcrum Therapeutics Launched with $55 Million to Reactivate the Fragile X Gene

A new company has launched that will invest tens of millions in reactivating the Fragile X gene. With $55 million in investment funds, Fulcrum Therapeutics in Cambridge, MA, aim to develop small molecules to control gene expression. These potential new treatments would be based on controlling genetic on- and off-switches of disease genes. Fulcrum will start with two diseases: Fragile X syndrome and a rare form of muscular dystrophy. FRAXA is funding one of the founding scientists, Jeannie Lee, MD, PhD, of Harvard University, and has been working with others on the new Fulcrum team.

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Cornell University Researcher Looks to Restore Fragile X Protein in Neurons

Cornell University Researcher Looks to Restore Fragile X Protein in Neurons

Which is the right FMRP for therapeutic development of Fragile X syndrome? When researchers develop effective drugs that reactivate FMRP — the protein that is normally silenced in Fragile X — what in the world will they do next? So ponders Cornell University researcher Samie R. Jaffrey, MD, PhD. Jaffrey, professor, Pharmacology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University, knows reactivating FMRP will lead to many important questions, such as: Which cell type needs FMRP? How much FMRP protein is needed to restore brain function? Where in the brain will FMRP protein be needed? Where in a neuron will the FMRP needs to be expressed?

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Brain Revolution: French Scientists Bardoni and Maurin Study FMRP

Brain Revolution: French Scientists Bardoni and Maurin Study FMRP

Dr. Maurin and Dr. Bardoni were awarded $90,000 over two years from FRAXA Research Foundation for their project, “Modulating cAMP And cGMP Levels As A New Therapeutic Approach For FXS”, in May 2016. They aim to gain a better understanding of how the brain develops and functions Like snowflakes, people with Fragile X Syndrome are not all alike. Some respond differently to the same drugs, as previous Fragile X research has shown. Understanding this phenomena is leading French scientists Barbara Bardoni, PhD, and Thomas Maurin, PhD, to identify new drugs to improve treatments in patients with Fragile X.

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Achieving Predictability: Developing Biomarkers for Fragile X Patients

Achieving Predictability: Developing Biomarkers for Fragile X Patients

New York University scientists make progress developing biomarker signatures and cataloging the types of Fragile X patients who will most likely benefit from new therapies. Take a closer look at your son or daughter with Fragile X syndrome. If you meet another child with Fragile X syndrome, chances are he/she may seem totally different to you, yet everyone is united under a FXS diagnosis. Discovering the biological reasons behind these differences is key to identifying which children will respond to what treatment. But how do you find the ‘prediction formula’? New York University scientists may soon know.

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University of Michigan researcher Peter Todd, MD, PhD, Aims to Selectively Turn the Fragile X Gene Back on in Human Cells

University of Michigan researcher Peter Todd, MD, PhD, Aims to Selectively Turn the Fragile X Gene Back on in Human Cells

Fish like salmon are born in fresh water streams and rivers. When the time comes for them to breed, they return to the stream of their birth to lay eggs in the same spot where they were born. To accomplish this, they must swim upstream against the current or flow of the stream. Taking a page out of the salmon DNA playbook, University of Michigan scientists Peter Todd, MD, PhD, and postdoctoral fellow Jill Haenfler, Ph.D., are exploring unchartered waters to find a cure for Fragile X Syndrome. The researchers are adapting CRISPR research to reactivate the FMR1 gene, which provides instructions for making a protein called FMRP — needed for normal brain development.

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New compound from Anavex Improves Learning and Behavior in Fragile X Mice

New compound from Anavex Improves Learning and Behavior in Fragile X Mice

A potential new treatment for Fragile X syndrome is showing promise. While still early in development, the investigational drug was able to improve intellectual, learning and hyperactivity measures in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome. Anavex 2-73 is a sigma-1 receptor agonist being developed for autism spectrum disorders, including Rett syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, and for Alzheimer’s disease. Anavex Life Sciences presented the data at the Gordon Research Conference for Fragile X and Autism-Related Disorders, held June 5-10, 2016 in Mount Snow, VT. The study was sponsored by FRAXA, via the FRAXA Drug Validation Initiative, and performed by Fraunhofer Chile Research, in Santiago, Chile.

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Meltdown no more? Targeting Hypersensitivity in Fragile X

Meltdown no more? Targeting Hypersensitivity in Fragile X

We’ve all been there. Our child with Fragile X hears something and becomes excited. Very excited. Hand flapping follows with non-stop jumping and ear-piercing squawking. Nothing helps. No meds. No iPhone. No magic toy. Several minutes go by. Sometimes longer. How many times have you apologized in a grocery store — or restaurant — or at the mall? Wouldn’t it make our lives better if this unpredictable excitability was minimalized or eliminated? That’s the premise behind research being conducted at University of California, Riverside. Principal Investigator Khaleel Razak, PhD, and postdoctoral fellow Jonathan W. Lovelace, PhD, are studying mice genetically altered to mimic the genetic characteristics of humans with Fragile X Syndrome.

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