Basic Mechanisms of Disease and Potential Therapeutic Strategies

With $245,000 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Stephen Warren and his lab at Emory University studied all aspects of fragile X syndrome, from the mechanisms of repeat expansion to high-throughput drug screens in the Drosophila model of fragile X. The Warren lab made the original discovery of the fragile X gene, FMR1, in collaboration with the Nelson and Oostra labs, and is recognized internationally as a leader in molecular genetics. Recent projects include establishment of induced pluripotent stem cell lines from fragile X patients, and determination of other forms of mutation in the fragile X gene, other than the most common trinucleotide repeat expansion.

James Malter, at University of Wisconsin-Madison, FRAXA research grant

APP and Abeta in Fragile X

With a $130,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2008-2008, Drs. James Malter and Cara Westmark at the University of Wisconsin studied the relationship between the fragile X protein FMRP and APP, a protein important to the pathology of Alzheimer’s Disease. APP may also contribute to the pathology of fragile X, and its major metabolite, Aß, may contribute to abnormal protein synthesis via a positive feedback loop. This project sought to restore normal dendritic protein synthesis in fragile X mice by breaking into this loop.

Ravi Allada, MD, at Northwestern University, FRAXA research grant

Sleep and Circadian Rhythms in Fragile X Mutant Drosophila

With an $80,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2 years, Dr. Ravi Allada and his team studied at Northwestern University sleep behaviors in fragile X fruit flies. These fruit flies are useful for several important reasons; not only do they have a good cognitive phenotype, they also have a clear disturbance of circadian rhythms. This is an important model for human hyperactivity and sleep disorders, and this group studied the underlying mechanisms in an effort to find treatments for the human conditions.