With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2018-2019, Drs. Devin Binder, Iryna Ethell, and Patricia Pirbhoy at the University of California at Riverside aim to understand – and reverse – hypersensitivity to sound in Fragile X syndrome.
At FRAXA Research Foundation, we are truly grateful for our Fragile X community and thousands of donors. We couldn’t keep moving the ball forward in research without your support. Each year FRAXA invests over $1 million in Fragile X research thanks to your support. Because we supported these three researchers, we were able to secure another $35 million in research aimed at identifying clinical trial outcome measures that will lead to human trials of promising treatments for those affected by Fragile X.
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. These brief updates from researchers investigating Fragile X.
Sensory Overload Ever wonder why your child with Fragile X suddenly screams for no apparent reason or jumps and flaps uncontrollably seemingly for hours? You got it: hyperexcitability. But what exactly causes it? And what can fix it? Kimberly Huber, PhD, is working long and hard in her lab to answer those questions. Dr. Huber, professor, Neuroscience, UT Southwestern Medical Center, is seeking to understand how FMRP regulates connections between brain cells, called synapses, and the function of brain circuits, which are several connected brain cells. Her current focus is the study of synapses and brain circuits in the mouse that mediate sensory perception, including perception of touch and sound. She aims to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which loss of FMRP causes hyperexcitable sensory circuits. The goal: to develop targeted therapeutics that can restore normal brain function and reduce sensory hypersensitivity. “Sensory brain circuits are overactive, or hyperexcitable,Read more
Re-examining the Nature of 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. In the early days of Fragile X research, shortly after the FMR1 gene was discovered and the normal protein product of the gene (FMRP) was identified, it was noted that FMRP is an RNA binding protein. Whatever the normal function of this single protein which Fragile X patients lack, it had something to do with RNA metabolism. Since RNA is the template used to make new proteins, this meant that the Fragile X protein is involved in regulating protein synthesis. A synapse showing the axon of neuron 1,Read more
The National Institutes of Health has just announced new awards of $35 million over five years to support three Centers for Collaborative Research in Fragile X. Investigators at these centers will seek to better understand Fragile X-associated disorders and work toward developing effective treatments. All of these scientists have been funded for years by FRAXA Research Foundation, and now each team will receive over $2 million per year for five years! Kimberly M. Huber, Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas (Grant number 1U54 HD082008-01) Many people with Fragile X syndrome are sensitive to sensory stimuli, especially noise. Dr. Huber’s team, along with Khaleel Razak, Ph.D., Iryna Ethell, Ph.D., and Devin Binder, Ph.D. of University of CA at Riverside, will study brain circuits in mouse models and people to try to determine the causes of heightened sensitivity to sound. This information may lead to more targeted therapies. Dr. HuberRead more
Khaleel Razak, PhD – University of California, Riverside with Iryna Ethell, PhD Co-Principal Investigator FRAXA Awards: $45,000 in 2016 $45,000 in 2013 $45,000 in 2012 2013 Update by Khaleel Razak, PhD The goals of our FRAXA-funded research project are to determine robust biomarkers relevant to the FXS and to examine the efficacy of minocycline treatment. We particularly focus on the symptoms related to communication from both production and reception viewpoints. We have identified multiple biomarkers in the Fmr1 knockout (KO) mice with the first year’s funding. There is a deficit in ultrasonic vocalizations (USV) in the KO mice. When male mice are paired with females, the KO males call at significantly slower rates (Rotschafer et al., 2012). Minocycline treatment during the first month of life, reverses the USV deficits. Based on this promising finding of a potentially useful pre-clinical outcome measure, we have pursued identification of critical developmental time windows
With a $74,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Abdeslem El Idrissi at CUNY explored the GABA receptor system in Fragile X mice and tested somatostatin and taurine as potential therapies for Fragile X; while somatostatin must be infused intravenously, taurine is available as a nutritional supplement.