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 $258,000 in grants since 2013 from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Anis Contractor and Dr. Qionger He at Northwestern University are exploring the potential of the available drug bumetanide to correct altered GABA signalling in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome.
With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation funded during 2014-2015, Dr. Frank Kooy and colleagues at the University of Antwerp are conducting a double blind crossover trial of ganaxolone in patients with fragile X syndrome. Results of this study were mixed (see Marinus: Results from Phase 2 Exploratory Clinical Study Support Continued Development of Ganaxolone in Fragile X Syndrome.
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.
FRAXA Research Foundation is proud to make a grant of $90,000 over 2014-2015 to Margaret King, PhD. The goal of this project is to identify new approaches to clinical trial design for fragile X pharmaceuticals.
With a $90,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation from 2013-2014, Dr. Andres Ozaita led a team to test rimonabant’s ability to blockade the CB1 receptor. Blocking CB1 has shown potential to reverse most symptoms of disease in mice bred to mimic fragile X syndrome.
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).
Studies have shown that the function of inhibitory networks is disturbed in fragile X. This abnormality is not well understood but appears to be secondary to abnormalities in metabotropic glutamate and endocannabinoid systems. With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA in 2013-2014, Dr. Molly Huntsman’s team examined how these networks interact and how inhibitory deficits can best be remedied.
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.
Computer modeling of the brain offers the hope of predicting how the brain responds to varying conditions, but these models have been rather primitive until recently. The Sejnowski team at the Salk Institute, who specialize in computational models of neural networks, will take the results of previous FRAXA-funded projects and incorporate them into their advanced computer models of brain function.
With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2013-14, Dr. Marius Wernig and Dr. Samuele Marro at Stanford analyzed homeostatic plasticity and regulation of synaptic strength by retinoic acid. If the results are encouraging, they will move forward with testing whether available RA antagonists can alleviate observed abnormalities in these cells.