A study funded by FRAXA in Italy has encouraging results for people with Fragile X: drugs that block adenosine receptors (A2A) reversed signs of Fragile X in a mouse model.
“One of the most intriguing things about this study is that it points to an entire drug class (not just the one drug used) as potentially therapeutic for Fragile X. Many available compounds block A2A receptors, and we know they are safe and effective.
Craig Erickson – Translational medicine and mechanistic studies of brain neurophysiology in Fragile X Syndrome: A NIH Center Overview
Ernest Pedapati – Network Mechanisms, Biomarkers, and Pharmacology of Fragile X Syndrome in Humans
Devin Binder – Network Mechanisms of Neurophysiology and Behavior in mouse models of Fragile X Syndrome
Kimberly Huber – FMRP Regulation of local and long-range neocortical circuits in the mouse: Links with EEG phenotypes
FRAXA Research Foundation has awarded $90,000 over 2019-2021 to principal investigator Dr. Jay Gibson and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Andrew Holley at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. They are investigating circuit mechanisms for auditory system dysfunction and drug tolerance in the Fragile X mouse model.
In this Fragile X research webinar we hear from Devin K. Binder, MD, PhD, Professor, University of California at Riverside Medical School and Khaleel Razak, PhD, Professor, University of California at Riverside as they present about Mechanisms and Biomarkers of Sensory Hypersensitivity in the fmr1 Knockout Mouse.
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.
Which of the available drugs are best for fragile X? We tend to think of drugs according to their primary activity in the body, but very few drugs are totally selective and specific. There are differences between drugs in any given class, and these differences may be critical. Most drugs have “off-target” effects which are usually considered side effects, and it is these side effects which can have key advantages, in some cases.
Recently Laurie Bowler and her 19-year-old son Casey, who has Fragile X syndrome, visited FRAXA research grant recipient Dr. Tue Banke at his University of Washington laboratory. We hope you enjoy Laurie’s wonderful description of their adventure! FRAXA awarded $90,000 to Dr. Banke to study the Developmental Profile of Glutamatergic Synapses in Fragile X.
FRAXA Research Foundation has awarded a $90,000 research fellowship to Dr. Tue Banke. With this award, Dr. Banke is investigating how glutamate receptors at neuronal synapses – essential building blocks of learning and memory – are impacted in Fragile X syndrome. Dr. Banke recently left Aarhus University in Denmark to continue his research first as a visiting scholar and now as an assistant professor at the University of Washington.
Caffeine is the most popular smart drug in the world. With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Alberto Martire, PhD and Antonella Borreca, PhD in Rome, Italy are investigating adenosine receptors antagonists to treat Fragile X syndrome. Compounds which are able to block adenosine receptors are commonly found in tea, chocolate, and coffee.
With a $51,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Craig Erickson conducting a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of AZD7325 in adults ages 18-50 with Fragile X syndrome at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The compound being studied is an investigational new drug from AstraZeneca that targets GABA (A) receptors.
Studies at Yale University and elsewhere are showing that FMRP plays a significant role in the regulation of potassium channels. Looking forward, potassium channel opener drugs could rescue some symptoms of Fragile X in humans.
The 18th International Fragile X and Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders Workshop in Quebec, Canada, was a great success, featuring Fragile X much more heavily than any previous meeting in this series! We asked our speakers to summarize their work in their own words, with brief updates from researchers investigating Fragile X.
According to Dr. Erickson, AZD7325 is a drug that selectively boosts GABA neurotransmission in the brain. GABA is the primary neurochemical in the brain that blocks brain activation. GABA activity is in balance in the brain with Glutamate activity, which is the primary neurochemical that causes brain activation. In Fragile X, GABA activity is insufficient and glutamate activity is excessive, likely causing brain activity to be out of balance. AZD7325 attempts to correct parts of this imbalance by boosting the insufficient GABA activity in the brains of people with Fragile X.
Almost all brain research focuses on neurons – nerve cells. However, the brain has many more glial cells which support, nourish, and protect the neurons. FRAXA Research Foundation awarded a 2017 grant $90,000 to support Dr. Yang’s studies of how changes in glial cells contribute to Fragile X syndrome. This grant is funded by a grant from the Pierce Family Fragile X Foundation.
With $217,500 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Karen O’Malley and team studied the function of mGluR5 when it is inside cells. Many of the symptoms of Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) are thought to arise due to overactive metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) signaling, which is normally opposed by the protein missing in FXS, Fragile X Protein (FMRP).
Over the past few years, both Novartis and Roche sponsored large-scale clinical trials of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5) negative allosteric modulators (NAMs) to treat Fragile X syndrome (FXS). With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation in 2015-2017, Dr. Mark Bear’s team will explore if mGlu5 NAMs dosed chronically causes tolerance, and if so, how it develops and to probe new avenues to prevent or circumvent it.
With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation funded during 2014-2015, Dr. Frank Kooy and colleagues at the University of Antwerp are conducting a double blind crossover trial of ganaxolone in patients with Fragile X syndrome. Results of this study were mixed (see Marinus: Results from Phase 2 Exploratory Clinical Study Support Continued Development of Ganaxolone in Fragile X Syndrome.)
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.
FRAXA Research Foundation funded a 2016-2017 Fellowship for Dr. Stephanie Barnes in the University of Edinburgh lab of Dr. Emily Osterweil. With this $90,000 award, the team is investigating NMDA signaling in fragile X syndrome mice.
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.
In the wake of negative results from several high-profile clinical trials in Fragile X, we find ourselves questioning many of our previous assumptions about the nature of this disorder. After all, understanding the basic pathology of disease is critical to development of new treatments — this is true across the board, in all branches of medicine.
With a $349,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation from 2008-2015, Dr. Paul Lombroso and his team at Yale University researched if inhibiting STEP could reduce behavioral abnormalities in Fragile X syndrome. Results published.
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 in 2013-2014, Dr. Molly Huntsman’s team examined how these networks interact and how inhibitory deficits can best be remedied.
With a $90,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Robert Wong is investigating how seizures are generated in Fragile X neurons. More generally, he is looking at how synapses are modified to enable learning and memory and how this process is impaired in Fragile X.
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.