FRAXA Research Foundation awarded a grant of $90,000 over two years to Clinton Canal, PhD. Dr. Canal, previously a research assistant professor at Northeastern University, has just launched his own lab at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA, to focus on Fragile X research.
Many of the behavioral symptoms of Fragile X and other autism spectrum disorders suggest abnormalities of the brain’s serotonin system. The serotonin system is one of the primary regulators of mood and anxiety. However, despite obvious involvement of this system in Fragile X syndrome, no one has ever done a systematic investigation of serotonin receptors and how they might be involved in Fragile X.
This project seeks to redress this oversight by examining the function and the numbers of serotonin receptors of various subtypes (of which there are many!) in the brains of Fragile X knockout mice.
This is important, because many drugs in wide use today manipulate the serotonin system. We commonly use SSRI drugs like fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft) which block some serotonin receptors. Many people who have Fragile X are already being treated with these drugs. The results of this research will help us do a better job of helping people with Fragile X with existing, available medicines.