Cellular-Specific Therapeutic Targeting of Inhibitory Circuits in Fragile X Syndrome

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, Dr. Molly Huntsman’s team examined how these networks interact and how inhibitory deficits can best be remedied.

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Auditory Dysfunction in Fragile X Syndrome in a Mouse Model of Fragile X

Elizabeth MCullough and Achim Klug

With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA, Dr. McCullagh and Dr. Achem Klug at the University of Colorado investigated whether auditory neural circuits are altered in Fragile X mice. They saw minor differences in these mice compared to B6 (control) mice in several measures of auditory acuity. Fmr1 mice had increased latency to the startle response for almost all conditions compared to B6 mice, suggesting altered timing to acoustic cues. These experiments show that, consistent with patient reports and anatomical/physiological data, the auditory system is altered in a mouse model of FXS, though with some potential compensation leading to a subtle behavioral impact.

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Clinical Trials and Cyclic AMP in Fragile X Syndrome: A Life Journey

In November 2020, a phase II clinical trial reported extremely successful results. This clinical trial of a PDE4D inhibitor from Tetra Pharmaceuticals was conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Berry-Kravis at Rush University Medical Center and funded by FRAXA Research Foundation. In this Simons Foundation lecture, Elizabeth Berry-Kravis traces 30 years of Fragile X research, from identifying its cause, through finding dozens of treatment targets, through a series of disappointing clinical trials.

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Social Behavior as an Outcome Measure for Fragile X Clinical Trials

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.

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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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Improving Memory Reversal Testing and Treatment with AMPAkines in the Fragile X Knock-Out Mouse

W Ted Brown, MD, PhD

A two year $62,000 FRAXA grant was been awarded to W. Ted Brown, MD, PhD from 1997-1998. The Principal Investigator at the Institute For Basic Research in New York aims to develop an improved test to show learning deficits in the FMR1 knock-out mouse model of Fragile X, and test experimental drugs (Ampakines) that may be effective in treating these deficits.

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