FRAXA Biotech Games™ Reimagined as Online Event for 2020

FRAXA Biotech Games™ Reimagined as Online Event for 2020

FRAXA Biotech Games™, a gathering of Boston area biotech companies to network in a friendly setting, and form new relationships and potential collaborations while raising money for Fragile X research, is adapting its 2020 event to maintain its commitment to Fragile X and autism research while prioritizing the health and safety of its contestants and volunteers. The organization’s traditional annual event will be transformed into an online interactive experience September 9-11, 2020.

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Scientists Find a New Way to Reverse Symptoms of Fragile X

Scientists Find a New Way to Reverse Symptoms of Fragile X

FRAXA Investigator and MIT Professor Mark Bear and his colleagues have identified a valuable new target for Fragile X therapeutics: GSK3 alpha. Several FRAXA research teams previously identified GSK3 beta as a treatment target for Fragile X. The catch is that, so far, GSK3 beta inhibitors have proven too toxic for regular use. Dr. Bear’s new discovery opens up the possibility of developing more selective compounds with less toxicity and fewer side effects. Interestingly, lithium inhibits both GSK3 versions – alpha and beta.

Bear lab (Bear 3rd from left, McCamphill on right)Read more

Companies Move to Advance Potential Cognitive Treatment for Fragile X

Companies Move to Advance Potential Cognitive Treatment for Fragile X

Tetra Therapeutics and Shionogi announced plans to expand their partnership supporting BPN14770, a treatment candidate for disorders marked by cognitive and memory deficits, including Fragile X syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. The agreement builds on an earlier collaboration between the two companies, and aims to further accelerate BPN14770’s development and potential marketing. It is currently in clinical testing in both Fragile X and Alzheimer’s patients.

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Ketogenic Diet Eases Symptoms in Fragile X Male Mice

Ketogenic Diet Eases Symptoms in Fragile X Male Mice

The Westmark laboratory continues to study sleep and rest-activity cycles in Fragile X mice as a potential outcome measure that correlates between preclinical and clinical research. The analysis of sleep EEG in the mice has proven more labor intensive than they anticipated, but the team is collaborating with Dr. Rama Maganti’s laboratory at UW-Madison on the development of computer scrips to speed up the analysis.

Fragile X Researcher, Cara Westmark, PhDRead more

Fragile X Clinical Trial of New PDE4D Inhibitor from Tetra

Fragile X Clinical Trial of New PDE4D Inhibitor from Tetra

FRAXA Research Foundation has funded a clinical trial of an investigational new drug, led by Dr. Elizabeth Berry-Kravis at the Rush Fragile X Clinic in Chicago. This trial will treat 30 adult males with Fragile X syndrome with a PDE4D allosteric inhibitor from Tetra Discovery Partners using in a crossover design, so that everyone gets active drug for part of the time and placebo for part of the time.

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Fragile X Syndrome Drug Validation Initiative (FRAXA-DVI)

Fragile X Syndrome Drug Validation Initiative (FRAXA-DVI)

The FRAXA Drug Validation Initiative (FRAXA-DVI) provides speedy, cost-effective, objective preclinical testing of potential new Fragile X treatments. FRAXA has funded FRAXA-DVI for $50,000 or more per year since 2012.

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Tetra Announces $40M to Advance BPN14770 for FXS and Alzheimer’s Disease

Tetra Announces $40M to Advance BPN14770 for FXS and Alzheimer’s Disease

Tetra Discovery Partners has signed a multi-part deal that could bring it up to $160 million, plus royalties, from Shionogi & Co, Ltd, a Japanese major research-driven pharmaceutical company. Tetra currently is conducting an investigational Phase 2 study of BPN14770 in adults with Fragile X Syndrome, an indication for which BPN14770 has received Orphan Drug Designation from the US Food and Drug Administration. This clinical trial was made possible by early work with the FRAXA-DVI and over $200,000 from FRAXA.

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Metformin and Aberrant Insulin Signaling in a Fragile X Mouse Model

Metformin and Aberrant Insulin Signaling in a Fragile X Mouse Model

This 2017-2018 grant of $90,000 is funded jointly by FRAXA and the Fragile X Research Foundation of Canada for the first year. A previous FRAXA grant to the Sonenberg lab has led to great interest in the available drug, metformin, as a potential treatment for Fragile X syndrome. FRAXA is currently organizing clinical trials of metformin.

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Mega Green Tea Extract to Treat Fragile X?

Mega Green Tea Extract to Treat Fragile X?

Green tea is thought to have many benefits, particularly in cognitive function. In 2012-14, FRAXA Research Foundation funded a clinical trial to assess the effects of EGCG (green tea extract) on cognitive function in adults with FXS. Drs. Rafael de la Torre and Mara Dierssen Sotos, principal researchers in Barcelona, Spain, reported memory, attention, and mental flexibility improvements.

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Tetra Discovery Partners Initiates Phase 2 Trial of BPN14770 in Fragile X Syndrome

Tetra Discovery Partners Initiates Phase 2 Trial of BPN14770 in Fragile X Syndrome

This 2-Period Crossover Study of BPN14770 is accepting adults males with Fragile X syndrome at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Principal Investigator of the study is Elizabeth Berry-Kravis, MD, PhD.
A selective inhibitor of the phosphodiesterase type-4D (PDE4D), BPN14770 has shown the ability to improve the quality of connections between neurons and to improve multiple behavioral outcomes in the Fragile X mouse model.

Tetra Discovery PartnersRead more

Preclinical Testing of Sleep-Wake Patterns as an Outcome Measure for Fragile X

Preclinical Testing of Sleep-Wake Patterns as an Outcome Measure for Fragile X

FRAXA Research Foundation awarded $122,000 over 2016-2018 to Dr. Cara Westmark at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for studies of sleep disorders in Fragile X syndrome.

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NIH Investigator Carolyn Beebe Smith, PhD, Looks to Improve Sleep in Fragile X Syndrome

NIH Investigator Carolyn Beebe Smith, PhD, Looks to Improve Sleep in Fragile X Syndrome

Our sons with Fragile X Syndrome typically go to bed early and rise early. Sometimes they jump on us while we are sleeping at 3 a.m., excited to start their day. For heaven’s sake, why? The answer may come from Carolyn Beebe Smith, PhD, senior investigator, Section on Neuroadaptation and Protein Metabolism, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. She is studying why children, in particularly boys, with FXS have problems sleeping.

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New compound from Anavex Improves Learning and Behavior in Fragile X Mice

New compound from Anavex Improves Learning and Behavior in Fragile X Mice

A potential new treatment for Fragile X syndrome is showing promise. While still early in development, the investigational drug was able to improve intellectual, learning and hyperactivity measures in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome. Anavex 2-73 is a sigma-1 receptor agonist being developed for autism spectrum disorders, including Rett syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, and for Alzheimer’s disease. Anavex Life Sciences presented the data at the Gordon Research Conference for Fragile X and Autism-Related Disorders, held June 5-10, 2016 in Mount Snow, VT. The study was sponsored by FRAXA, via the FRAXA Drug Validation Initiative, and performed by Fraunhofer Chile Research, in Santiago, Chile.

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Crossroads of Fragile X and Alzheimers Research

Crossroads of Fragile X and Alzheimers Research

Last week researchers at VIB Leuven in Belgium published evidence that a brain pathway involving the protein APP (Amyloid Precursor Protein) plays a vital role in development of Fragile X syndrome, one of the most common causes of autism. Scientists led by Dr. Emanuela Pasciuto in the laboratory of Prof Claudia Bagni published findings of their study in the journal Neuron.

Claudia Bagni, PhD, at University of Rome, FRAXA research grantRead more

Bryostatin Restores Learning and Memory in Adult Fragile X Mice

Bryostatin Restores Learning and Memory in Adult Fragile X Mice

A bizarre marine critter found off the California coast — Bugula neritina— is the only known source of a potential new Fragile X treatment, Bryostatin. Last month, FRAXA sat down with scientists from Neurotrope BioScience, a specialty biopharmaceutical company developing medicines for rare diseases and Alzheimer’s based on Bryostatin. Their Fragile X program is based on research by a West Virginia team led by Daniel Alkon, MD, which showed that Bryostatin-1 restores hippocampal synapses and spatial learning and memory in adult Fragile X mice.

bugulaRead more

Functional Interplay Between FMRP and CDK5 Signaling

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.

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What Treatments Work for FXTAS?

Many older family members in the Fragile X community are affected by FXTAS (Fragile X-associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome). We all hope that knowing the underlying cause of neurodegenerative symptoms in FXTAS will help in the development of specific treatments over the long term. In the short term, we would also hope that having a specific diagnosis would help us to identify particular available treatments which might be more effective than others.

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Ab-Mediated Translation in Fragile X Syndrome

Ab-Mediated Translation in Fragile X Syndrome

With a $120,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation during 2011-2012, Dr. Cara Westmark at the University of Wisconsin explored the role of AbPP as a potential treatment option for fragile X. AbPP produces b-amyloid which is over-expressed in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Down syndrome.

Fragile X Researcher, Cara Westmark, PhDRead more

What Works, and What Doesn’t

At the start, it’s always hard to know what methods will work best for something as complex as the development of disease-modifying treatments for Fragile X. But, we’ve always tried to let the science lead us down the right path. At this point, the results are unequivocal, and they have shaped how we are looking for the Next Great Thing in Fragile X treatments.

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Compound that Inhibits mGluR5 Corrects Signs of Fragile X in Adult Mice

A study finds that a new compound reverses many of the major symptoms associated with Fragile X syndrome (FXS). The paper is published in the April 12 issue of the journal Neuron, describing the exciting observation that the FXS correction can occur in adult mice, after the symptoms of the condition have already been established. Previous research has suggested that inhibition of mGlu5, a subtype of receptor for the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, may ameliorate many of the major symptoms of the disease. This study, a collaboration between a group at Roche in Switzerland, led by Dr. Lothar Lindemann, and Dr. Mark Bear’s MIT lab, used an mGlu5 inhibitor called CTEP to examine whether inhibition of mGlu5 could reverse FXS symptoms.

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Role of JNK in FMRP Regulated Translation in Fragile X Syndrome

Role of JNK in FMRP Regulated Translation in Fragile X Syndrome

With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2 years, Dr. Michael Wilhelm and his team at the University of Wisconsin studied a protein known as JNK, which is observed to be abnormally regulated in Fragile X. Like FMRP, it is involved in regulating dendritic protein synthesis, and so it may be a target for drug therapy in Fragile X.

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Using Fenobam to Reduce APP and Abeta in Fragile X Mice

Using Fenobam to Reduce APP and Abeta in Fragile X Mice

With a $130,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2008-2009, Drs. James Malter and Cara Westmark at the University of Wisconsin studied the relationship between the Fragile X protein FMRP and APP, a protein important to the pathology of Alzheimer’s Disease. APP may also contribute to the pathology of Fragile X, and its major metabolite, Aß, may contribute to abnormal protein synthesis via a positive feedback loop. This project sought to restore normal dendritic protein synthesis in Fragile X mice by breaking into this loop.

James Malter, at University of Wisconsin-Madison, FRAXA research grantRead more