Targeting Cognitive Function in Fragile X Syndrome

It has long been assumed that the differences between males and females with Fragile X were simply a matter of degree, with males being more severely affected. But gender differences may be far reaching. This team is working to understand imbalances in how the brain’s neurons transmit signals, with a focus on how differently males and females learn and experience anxiety. They are studying two neuronal pathways which are promising targets for treatment.

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Transcriptional Signatures Sensitive to Cognition-Improving Pharmacological Treatments in Fragile X Syndrome

The Fragile X field needs biomarkers to accurately measure the effects of potential treatments in both Fragile X mice and in humans. Dr. Ozaita and his team have found molecular features in the brain that can serve as an objective signature for the syndrome. They will use this tool to test cannabidiol and two other drugs in mice.

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Cannabinoids as a Treatment for Fragile X Syndrome

Many people with Fragile X syndrome are hyper-sensitive to sights and sounds, and Electroencephalography (EEG) studies show that there are abnormalities in brain circuits. EEG studies show similar changes in Fragile X mice. So the team will use EEG tests in mice to find which drugs best reduce hypersensitivity. They can then easily move on to human EEG-based clinical trials. What they learn will tell us much more about why people with Fragile X are hypersensitive – and which drugs could best help them.

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Inhibiting Nonsense – Mediated mRNA Decay: A Potential Treatment Approach for Fragile X

All cells have a kind of housecleaning service which sweeps away genetic errors. This is called nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). With a previous FRAXA grant, this team discovered runaway NMD in cells of Fragile X patients. It’s not yet known how this impacts people with Fragile X. With this grant, Dr. Maquat and Dr. Kurosaki will test drugs which can bring NMD back to normal levels.

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Cellular-Specific Therapeutic Targeting of Inhibitory Circuits in Fragile X Syndrome

Studies have shown that the function of inhibitory networks is disturbed in Fragile X. This abnormality is not well understood but appears to be secondary to abnormalities in metabotropic glutamate and endocannabinoid systems. With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA, Dr. Molly Huntsman’s team examined how these networks interact and how inhibitory deficits can best be remedied.

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Targeting Adiponectin to Treat Fragile X Syndrome

Dr. Bettio, Dr. Christie, Dr. Thacker

FRAXA Research Foundation has awarded a $30,000 research grant to principal investigator Brian Christie, PhD, and postdoctoral fellows Jonathan Thacker, PhD, and Luis Bettio, PhD, at the University of Victoria. They are investigating whether boosting the hormone adiponectin can effectively treat Fragile X syndrome. This project is funded in partnership with the Fragile X Research Foundation of Canada, which is providing an additional $15,000.

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Correcting Sensory Processing in Fragile X Mice by Modulating Kv3.1

Nazim Kourdougli and Carlos Portera-Cailleau

FRAXA has awarded a $90,000 grant to Carlos Portera-Cailliau, PhD and Nazim Kourdougli, PhD at UCLA to investigate whether a novel drug can rescue sensory processing deficits in Fragile X mice. People with Fragile X have similar problems in sensory processing. This new drug acts on Kv3.1, a promising Fragile X treatment target also being pursued by UK-based Autifony Therapeutics based on FRAXA-funded research done at Yale.

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Enhancing NMDA Receptor Signaling to Treat Fragile X Syndrome

Stephanie Barnes, PhD

Dr. Stephanie Barnes has been investigating the role of NMDA receptors as a FRAXA Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Emily Osterweil’s laboratory at the University of Edinburgh from 2016-2018. With an additional year grant from FRAXA, she is now continuing her work to identify novel targets and test pharmacological therapies in the Fragile X mouse model at the Picower Institute at MIT with Dr. Mark Bear.

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