With this $20,000 award from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Vanderklish and collaborators at Scripps Research Institute, the University of Chile, and the FLENI Institute in Argentina are analyzing patterns in gene expression in blood cells of patients with Fragile X syndrome. They are using “transcriptomics” which can produce a time-sensitive signature of an individual person which is even more detailed than genomics. This is the first time that all these different levels of study – from transcriptomics to behavior – have been done for individual patients with Fragile X. The hope is that they will obtain reliable new molecular biomarkers in platelets.
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.
Most people know that FRAXA supports academic research at many institutions such as Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University. However, FRAXA is also working with more than 30 pharmaceutical companies around the world. Mike spends a lot of his time advising and collaborating with industry partners.
FRAXA Research Foundation initially partnered with Healx in 2016 to identify existing drugs with potential to treat Fragile X syndrome, using machine learning algorithms and computational biology. The study produced results, and now FRAXA and Healx have launched a new round of studies to evaluate combinations of compounds, including both drugs and natural products.
While there are over 8,000 rare diseases affecting an estimated 350 million people worldwide, only around 200 of these conditions have effective treatments. Due to the high cost of developing new drugs, rare diseases have historically been less attractive to pharmaceutical companies. Drug repurposing systematically leverages the detailed information available on approved drugs and reduces the time and money needed to deliver safe “new” treatments, but with greater success rates and a potentially more immediate impact on health care.
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.
FRAXA Research Foundation was founded in 1994 to fund biomedical research aimed at finding a cure for Fragile X syndrome and, ultimately, autism. We prioritize translational research with the potential to lead to improved treatments for Fragile X in the near term. Our early efforts involved supporting a great deal of basic neuroscience to understand the cause of Fragile X. By 1996, these efforts had already begun to yield results useful for drug repurposing. To date, FRAXA has funded well over $25 million in research, with over $3 million of that for repurposing existing drugs for Fragile X. Here are some examples of FRAXA-funded work on repurposing available drugs for Fragile X syndrome: Lithium In the mid-1990s, the Greenough lab at the University of Illinois discovered that FMRP, the protein missing in Fragile X, is rapidly translated in dendrites in response to stimulation of glutamate receptors. FRAXA funded preclinical validation of this discovery in theRead more
bio·mark·er, noun, a distinctive biological or biologically derived indicator of a process, event, or condition. Doesn’t help? Well, it’s perfectly clear to Argentinian researchers Patricia Cogram, PhD, and Paulina Carullo, MD, from the FLENI Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They understand there is an urgent need for validated biomarkers after recent Fragile X syndrome clinical trials have failed on their primary endpoints. “Biomarkers are key to learning more about their correlation with clinical and behavioral characteristics across diverse developmental stages in Fragile X syndrome,” said Dr. Cogram, the principal investigator of FRAXA’s Drug Validation Initiative (FRAXA-DVI) to test preclinicaly potential compounds for FXS. “We are searching for biomarkers that could potentially be used for clinical trials for treatment in children, teenagers, and adults with Fragile X.” Cue parents. Yes, you. Targets: your Child’s Cognitive, Behavioral and Emotional Impairments Dr. Cogram and Dr. Carullo are looking for families of children withRead more
Just as the Amazon rainforest may hold a cure for cancer if only scientists can find it, 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. “Our results show that synaptic and cognitive function of adult FXS mice can be normalized through pharmacologic treatment and that bryostatin-1-like agents may represent a novel class of drugs to treat Fragile X mental retardation even after postpartum brain development has largely completed,” remarked Dr. Alkon. Bugula and Bryostatins Often mistaken for seaweed, bugula is actually colonies of small animals, likeRead more