Karen O'Malley

Defining the Subcellular Specificity of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor (mGluR5) Antagonists

With $217,500 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Karen O’Malley and team studied the function of mGluR5 when it is inside cells. Many of the symptoms of fragile X Syndrome (FXS) are thought to arise due to overactive metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) signaling, which is normally opposed by the protein missing in FXS, Fragile X Protein (FMRP).

David Nelson, PhD, FRAXA Investigator

Fragile X Mutant Mouse Facility

With $375,000 in grants from the FRAXA Research Foundation since 2009, Dr. David Nelson has developed an impressive array of advanced mouse models of fragile X, at Baylor College of Medicine. These models are available to investigators worldwide on request. This resource has been essential for a broad, rapid distribution of fragile X and related gene mouse models and has increased the pace of fragile X research.

Dr. Tom Jongens and Dr. Sean McBride study Fragile X Fruit Flies

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.

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.

Kendal Broadie

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.