Sensory Hypersensibility in Fragile X Syndrome and BK Channel Openers

Sensory Hypersensibility in Fragile X Syndrome and BK Channel Openers

With $366,100 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation, these investigators at the University of Orleans studied sensory abnormalities in Fragile X mice and test the ability of a class of drugs, BK channel openers, to rescue these abnormalities.

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MicroRNAs as Biomarkers in Fragile X Syndrome

MicroRNAs as Biomarkers in Fragile X Syndrome

With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation in 2015-2016, Dr. Mollie Meffert and Dr. Christina Timmerman at Johns Hopkins University studied groups of small RNAs, known as microRNAs, which are greatly decreased in brain tissue of Fragile X mice vs. normal controls.

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Repurposing Drugs to Dampen Hyperactive Nonsense-Mediated Decay in Fragile X Syndrome

Repurposing Drugs to Dampen Hyperactive Nonsense-Mediated Decay in Fragile X Syndrome

With a $90,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Lynne Maquat and Dr. Tatsuaki Kurosaki will investigate nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) in Fragile X. NMD is a “housekeeping” process that cells use to prevent faulty proteins from being made. But there is too much of it in Fragile X syndrome. There are already available drugs that suppress NMD – including caffeine.

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Altered Sleep in Fragile X Syndrome: Basis for a Potential Therapeutic Target

Altered Sleep in Fragile X Syndrome: Basis for a Potential Therapeutic Target

With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2016-2018, Dr. Carolyn B. Smith and Dr. Rache Sare at the National Institute of Mental Health investigated the basis of sleep problems in Fragile X syndrome.

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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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Targeting AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Pathway in Fragile X Syndrome

Targeting AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Pathway in Fragile X Syndrome

With a $100,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation in 2015, Dr. Peter Vanderklish explored a novel strategy to treat Fragile X syndrome: AMPK activators. The good news is that there are FDA approved (for example, metformin) and naturally occurring AMPK activators (such as resveratrol, found in red wine).

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Fruit Flies to Model and Test Fragile X Treatments

Fruit Flies to Model and Test Fragile X Treatments

Dr. Jongens and his collaborators have found an insulin-like protein in the fly brain that is overexpressed in the Fragile X mutant fly, leading to increased activity of the insulin signaling pathway. Furthermore, they found that certain behavioral patterns in the Fragile X flies can be rescued by expressing the FX gene just in insulin producing neurons in the fly brain. In the mutant, there are other changes in the signaling pathways, including a decrease in cAMP and elevation in PI3K, mTOR, Akt and ERK activity. They now propose to study 2 medicines used for diabetes: pioglitazone (increases cAMP and decreases Akt and ERK) and metformin (inhibits mTOR), in flies and mice to validate the potential efficacy of these novel therapeutics for Fragile X.

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Inhibitors of STEP as a Novel Treatment of Fragile X Syndrome

Inhibitors of STEP as a Novel Treatment of Fragile X Syndrome

With a $349,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation from 2008-2015, Dr. Paul Lombroso and his team at Yale University researched if inhibiting STEP could reduce behavioral abnormalities in Fragile X syndrome. Results published.

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Targeting the Endocannabinoid System in Adult Fragile X Mice

Targeting the Endocannabinoid System in Adult Fragile X Mice

With a $90,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation from 2013-2014, Dr. Andres Ozaita led a team to test rimonabant’s ability to blockade the CB1 receptor. Blocking CB1 has shown potential to reverse most symptoms of disease in mice bred to mimic Fragile X syndrome.

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

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 in 2013-2014, Dr. Molly Huntsman’s team examined how these networks interact and how inhibitory deficits can best be remedied.

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Functional Interplay Between FMRP and CDK5 Signaling

Functional Interplay Between FMRP and CDK5 Signaling

With a $180,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation over 2011-2014, Dr. Yue Feng and Dr. Wenqi Li at Emory University will study CDK5 pathway function and regulation in an effort to break down whether and how CDK5 signaling is affected by the loss of the Fragile X protein, FMRP, in the Fragile X mouse model.

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Synaptic Characterization of Human Fragile X Neurons

Synaptic Characterization of Human Fragile X Neurons

With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2013-14, Dr. Marius Wernig and Dr. Samuele Marro at Stanford analyzed homeostatic plasticity and regulation of synaptic strength by retinoic acid. If the results are encouraging, they will move forward with testing whether available RA antagonists can alleviate observed abnormalities in these cells.

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Bcl-xL Inhibition as a Therapeutic Strategy for Fragile X Syndrome

Bcl-xL Inhibition as a Therapeutic Strategy for Fragile X Syndrome

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.

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Seizures in Fragile X Syndrome and Therapeutic Potential of NMDA Receptor Antagonists

Seizures in Fragile X Syndrome and Therapeutic Potential of NMDA Receptor Antagonists
With a $90,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Robert Wong is investigating how seizures are generated in Fragile X neurons. More generally, he is looking at how synapses are modified to enable learning and memory and how this process is impaired in Fragile X. $90,000 Grant Robert Wong, PhD Principal Investigator State University of New York 2013-2014 FRAXA Research Grant $90,000 over 2 Years Abnormal increases in sensitivity of a type of glutamate receptor (group I mGluR) cause brain malfunction, including epilepsy, in Fragile X syndrome (FXS). We are examining a newly uncovered regulation of this increased group I mGluR sensitivity by a second type of glutamate receptor, the NMDA receptor. By looking at audiogenic seizures in FXS model mice, NMDA receptor blockers were found to robustly suppress these seizures at the young developmental stage. In contrast, the same antagonists activated seizure activities, normally dormant, in adult FXS model mice and in a CGGRead more

Small Molecules To Target r(CGG) Expansions to Treat Fragile X Syndrome

Small Molecules To Target r(CGG) Expansions to Treat Fragile X Syndrome

With a 2-year, $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr.’s Matthew Disney and Wang-Yong Yang worked to correct the underlying problem in Fragile X: the silencing of the Fragile X gene (FMR1) and the resulting lack of FMRP (Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein). Their approach was to use novel small molecules to target the abnormal CGG repeats before the FMR1 gene.

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Potassium Channel Modulators to Treat Fragile X

Potassium Channel Modulators to Treat Fragile X

With $246,000 in funding from FRAXA over 2012-2014, the Yale University team of Leonard Kaczmarek, PhD, showed that loss of FMRP leads to an increased Kv3.1 potassium currents and decreased Slack potassium currents in neurons. Both of these changes impair timing of action potentials in auditory neurons (and likely others throughout the brain). The team also found that the firing pattern of neurons in response to repeated stimulation is severely abnormal in Fragile X mice. Based on these results, they are collaborating with the UK-based company Autifony to develop and test advanced compounds which may reverse these deficits.

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Social Behavior as an Outcome Measure for Fragile X Clinical Trials

Social Behavior as an Outcome Measure for Fragile X Clinical Trials

One of the features of the Fragile X mouse model which is relevant to the human Fragile X syndrome (and autism) is social behavior. Several tests show consistent social behavioral abnormalities in the Fragile X mouse model. With a $140,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation in 2012-2013, Dr. Willemsen at Erasmus University used social behavior tests to measure the effectiveness of several drug strategies.

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Translation-Independent Functions of FMRP in Excitability, Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity

Translation-Independent Functions of FMRP in Excitability, Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity

With a $140,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Vitaly Klyachko and team at Washington University explored STP (short-term plasticity) in Fragile X, namely looking at presynaptic calcium dynamics as a major underlying cause of the STP defects.

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Development of a Novel GABA-A Agonist in Fragile X Syndrome

Development of a Novel GABA-A Agonist in Fragile X Syndrome

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. Non-selective GABA(A) agonism in animal models of FXS has been associated with normalization of morphological features, GABA(A) expression, and behavior. However, the clinical use of these agents in Fragile X is associated with unwanted side-effects, such as sedation, dulling of cognition, and occasional paradoxical agitation, which limits their use. Given the limitations in available GABA(A)-based treatment of FXS, this group plans to investigate a novel selective GABA(A) agonist in a mouse model of FXS. This agent has the potential to relieve many symptoms of Fragile X without the unwanted side effects.

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Matrix Metalloproteinase Therapeutic Treatments for Fragile X Syndrome

Matrix Metalloproteinase Therapeutic Treatments for Fragile X Syndrome

With a $157,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation in 201202013, Dr. Kendal Broadie and Dr. Cheryl Gatto worked to define the distinct but also overlapping roles for MMP-1 and MMP-2 in synaptic structural and functional development. In drug studies with Fragile X fruit flies, they will be testing a range of MMPIs in drug treatments to compare effectiveness during development and at maturity, in order to define the contributions of FXS developmental impairments and adult recovery/plasticity.

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Lovastatin Discovery in Fragile X Mice Leads FRAXA to Fund Clinical Trials

Lovastatin Discovery in Fragile X Mice Leads FRAXA to Fund Clinical Trials
Available Medication Lovastatin Corrects Excess Protein Synthesis in Fragile X Mice Dr. Emily Osterweil At the opening dinner of the 2011 FRAXA Investigators Meeting in Southbridge, MA,  Dr. Emily Osterweil was awarded the FRAXA Pioneer Award for work demonstrating that Lovastatin could treat Fragile X.  Dr. Osterweil conducted her experiments in the MIT laboratory of Dr. Mark Bear; she has since established her own laboratory at the University of Edinburgh. The team discovered that lovastatin, a drug widely prescribed for high cholesterol, can correct excess hippocampal protein synthesis in the mouse model of FXS and can prevent epileptogenesis. The work is published in the prestigious neuroscience journal Neuron: Lovastatin Corrects Excess Protein Synthesis and Prevents Epileptogenesis in a Mouse Model of Fragile X Syndrome. One implication of the mGluR theory of Fragile X is that there are exaggerated consequences of activation of signaling pathways which link metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) to the cellular machinery ofRead more

Effects of minocycline on vocal production and auditory processing in a mouse model of Fragile X

Effects of minocycline on vocal production and auditory processing in a mouse model of Fragile X

With $135,000 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation over several years, Dr. Khaleel Razak and Dr. Iryna Ethell explored robust biomarkers relevant to the FXS and the efficacy of minocycline treatment.

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Endocannabinoid Mediated Synaptic Plasticity in Fragile X Mice

Endocannabinoid Mediated Synaptic Plasticity in Fragile X Mice

With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over two years, Drs. Olivier Manzoni and Daniela Neuhofer researched the relationship between Fragile X syndrome and the areas of the brain that are involved in reward processing, regulation of emotional behavior and emotional memory as well as attention, planning and working memory.

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Preclinical Evaluation of Serotonin Receptor Agonists as Novel Pharmacological Tools in Fragile X Syndrome

Preclinical Evaluation of Serotonin Receptor Agonists as Novel Pharmacological Tools in Fragile X Syndrome

With a $66,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation in 2013, Dr. Lucia Ciranna and her team from the Universita di Catania tested if specific serotonins could reverse abnormal phentotypes found in Fragile X syndrome. 

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