With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Hongbing Wang’s team from Michigan State University looked at a treatment target “downstream” of the mGluR5 called cyclic AMP (cAMP). Levels of cAMP are lower in FXS patients and animal models, suggesting that it plays a role in FXS. Drugs that raise levels of cAMP may effectively treat fragile X. We are very pleased to report that, in 2012, Dr. Wang received a 5-year, $250,000 per year R01 grant from NIH to continue this promising research.
With a $100,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Drs. Joshua Corbin and Molly Huntsman from the Children’s National Medical Center examined the role of a particular class of brain cells (inhibitory interneurons) that dampen excessive activity in the “emotional center of the brain” (the amydala). This inhibition is deficient in fragile X, and so they are looked for ways to remedy this. This is particularly interesting to parents of children who are overly anxious and emotional. They worked with Dr. Walter Kaufmann, a clinician at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland.
The Richter lab is the foremost research group in the world in the study of CPEB, a protein critical for regulation of protein synthesis. With $170,000 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2008-2011, Dr. Joel Richter of the University of MA Medical School explored whether inhibitions of the CPEB may be a viable approach for treatment of fragile X.
With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Peng Jin’s team from Emory University School of Medicine found that fragile X causes an increase production of new cells, so they tested large numbers of drugs to find those that can correct this. This high throughput drug screen uses neural stem cells from fragile X knockout mice to identify small molecules which may be therapeutic in fragile X.
With a $35,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Nicole Tartaglia from the University of Colorado Denver and Tracey Stackhouse aimed to develop neuromotor outcome measures for use in clinical trials in FXS, and to contribute to a deeper understanding of the neuromotor issues involved in FXS. This collaborative project was completed at the two sites of the Colorado Fragile X Clinic: The Children’s Hospital and Developmental FX. Dr. Nicole Tartaglia is the Medical Director of the Fragile X Clinic at The Children’s Hospital of Denver. Tracy Murnan Stackhouse, MA, OTR is the co-founder of the Developmental & Fragile X Resource Centre (Developmental FX), a clinic specializing in fragile X.
With a $120,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Drs. Henri Tiedge and Jun Zhong studied the mechanisms by which local protein translation is repressed. Multiple parallel mechanisms keep protein synthesis in check; one of them involves FMRP, and a similar mechanism involves the non-coding RNA, BC1. Results published.
With a $219,500 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Stephen Haggarty from Havard/MIT developed a high-throughput drug screen to find compounds that inhibit GSK3, a critical enzyme in fragile X. He looked for compounds that can accomplish this either alone or in combination with lithium, offering the possibility of enhancing the effectiveness of lithium as a treatment. His drug screen used patient-specific neural progenitor (NP) cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) – which are created from cells in a skin biopsy from people with fragile X syndrome (FXS) and other autism spectrum disorders.
With a $10,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Hessl at the University of California at Davis led a collaborative study to analyze the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) as an outcome measure for children and adults with fragile X syndrome. Results published.
With a $304,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over several years, Drs. Oostra and deVrij from Erasmus University studied miRNA and fragile X. miRNAs are RNAs that can repress the translation of target mRNAs – therefore they can play a role in protein synthesis within the neuron. Preliminary results showed large differences in miRNA expression in the fragile X mouse brain compared to the wild type. This lab investigated the effect of mGluR5 antagonists on the levels of these specific miRNAs.
With in $150,000 grants from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2005-2009, Dr. Carlos Portera-Cailliau studied intact, anesthetized fragile X mouse brains, looking for defects in the density, length, or dynamics of the dendrites. They looked for changes in the neurons after treatment with mGluR5 antagonists.
With $155,000 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation over several years, Dr. Miklos Toth of Cornell University discovered increased startle response in fragile X mice and that baclofen can correct this phenotype. They also studied epigenetics (ie factors other than the gene itself) which can determine symptom severity in fragile X.