The FRAXA Drug Validation Initiative (FRAX-DVI) provides speedy, cost-effective, objective testing of potential new fragile X treatments. FRAXA has funded FRAX-DVI for $50,000 in 2017.
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).
With a $60,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation in 2015 that was renewed in 2016, Dr. Eric Klann of New York University will research biomarkers in fraile X syndrome and how to translate these markers from mouse models to human patients.
With $255,000 from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Suzanne Zukin at Albert Einstein College of Medicine studied signalling pathways in fragile X syndrome.
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.
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. 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.
With a $124,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation from 2012-2014, Dr. Mara Dierssen and Dr. Rafael de la Torre conducted preclinical studies in fragile X knockout mice and a clinical trial in fragile X patients using Mega Green Tea Extract, which contains 45% by weight epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
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.
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.
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.
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.