Dr. Bassell’s team has developed powerful molecular genetic techniques to track mRNAs and FMRP particles as they move through these processes in brain tissue from fragile X knockout mice. They have shown that a specific intracellular signaling pathway, the PI3K/mTOR pathway, is overactive in the absence of FMRP. This pathway is involved in mediating many neuronal neurotransmitter receptors. This project will test new drugs in development which inhibit an enzyme known as PI3 kinase, a part of the pathway, and have the potential to normalize neuronal function in fragile X.
With a $82,500 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation in 2011-2012, Dr. Christopher Cowan and Dr. Laura Smith explored the role of specific signaling pathways in drug-related behavioral deficits, including determining the role, if any, of known impairments in the fragile X brain.
Dr. Davidovic has been examining changes in metabolism in various brain regions that are affected in fragile X patients. She has defined a brain-specific metabolic signature of FXS and is testing treatment strategies to restore normal levels of these metabolites.
With $109,500 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation over 5 years, Dr. Karen O’Malley of Washington University researches the relationship between fragile X syndrome and the functions of mGluR5.
With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2 years, Dr. Michael Wilhelm and his team at the University of Wisconsin studied a protein known as JNK, which is observed to be abnormally regulated in fragile X. Like FMRP, it is involved in regulating dendritic protein synthesis, and so it may be a target for drug therapy in fragile X.
With $271,876 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Julius Zhu from the University of Virginia examined the effects of several drugs such as Buspar and Abilify which manipulate specific serotonin receptors and the effect that has on synaptic plasticity (LTP and LTD).
With a $112,250 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 3 years, Dr. Efthimios Skoulakis and his team from the Institute of Cellular and Developmental Biology conducted the first FRAXA project in Greece, where they developed a speedy new test for learning problems in fruit flies, which allowed them to test a number of drugs that are potential fragile X treatments.
With a $95,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation from 2010-2011, Dr. Daniel Johnston and Dr. Darrin Brager at the University of Texas at Austin investigated alterations in ion channels in fragile X syndrome. They explored potential therapeutic effects of drugs which open and close these channels. Results published.
With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation in 2010-2011, Dr. Mark Bear and Dr. Miquel Bosch tested the simple hypothesis that the excessive rate of protein synthesis is not a consequence but the primary cause of the structural alterations occurring in fragile X syndrome.
With a $106,800 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2 years, Drs. Stephan Kindler and Hans-Jurgen Kreieinkamp studied a protein, Shank1, which is overabundant in fragile X syndrome.
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.
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.