Dr. Tom Jongens and Dr. Sean McBride study Fragile X Fruit Flies

Fruit Flies to Model and Test Fragile X Treatments

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.

Manipulating Basal and mGluR-Stimulated cAMP Level in FXS Model Mice

With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Hongbing Wang’s team from Michigan State University looked at a treatment target “downstream” of the mGluR5 called cyclic AMP (cAMP). Levels of cAMP are lower in FXS patients and animal models, suggesting that it plays a role in FXS. Drugs that raise levels of cAMP may effectively treat fragile X. We are very pleased to report that, in 2012, Dr. Wang received a 5-year, $250,000 per year R01 grant from NIH to continue this promising research.