With a 2-year, $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr.’s Matthew Disney and Wang-Yong Yang worked to correct the underlying problem in fragile X: the silencing of the fragile X gene (FMR1) and the resulting lack of FMRP (Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein). Their approach was to use novel small molecules to target the abnormal CGG repeats before the FMR1 gene.
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.
Of the many genes known to be regulated by FMRP, the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor A (GABA(A)), is gaining attention as a potential target for the treatment of FXS. Mounting evidence suggests decreased expression and functioning of GABA(A) is involved in the pathophysiology of FXS. Non-selective GABA(A) agonism in animal models of FXS has been associated with normalization of morphological features, GABA(A) expression, and behavior. However, the clinical use of these agents in fragile X is associated with unwanted side-effects, such as sedation, dulling of cognition, and occasional paradoxical agitation, which limits their use. Given the limitations in available GABA(A)-based treatment of FXS, this group plans to investigate a novel selective GABA(A) agonist in a mouse model of FXS. This agent has the potential to relieve many symptoms of fragile X without the unwanted side effects.
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.
With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over two years, Drs. Olivier Manzoni and Daniela Neuhofer researched the relationship between fragile X syndrome and the areas of the brain that are involved in reward processing, regulation of emotional behavior and emotional memory as well as attention, planning and working memory.
With a $128,500 grant over 2011-2013 from FRAXA Research Foundation, Drs. Bradley Alger and and Ai-Hui Tang at the University of Maryland researched endocannabinoid pathways in fragile X.
With $384,345 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. MariVi Tejada from the University of Houston focused on a particularly promising point of intervention in pathways of brain receptors, and tested several potential therapeutic compounds in an attempt to rescue function in the mouse model of fragile X.
Dr. Huber made the original discovery of the mGluR Theory of Fragile X when she was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Mark Bear, with her first FRAXA grant in 2000. Dr. Huber has received $474,300 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation since then, researching molecular mechanisms and developmental switches in fragile X syndrome. She has worked with 4 FRAXA Postdoctoral Fellows (Elena Nosyreva, PhD in 2006; Jennifer Roseni, PhD in 2007; Tong Zang, PhD in 2010-2011; and Weirui Guo, PhD in 2012-2013) and has received supporting funds from The Meadows Foundation of/for Texas.