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.
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
A major article from the Ethell lab at UC Riverside has shown the therapeutic potential of drugs that inhibit the enzyme MMP-9. A nice lay description of the new paper is here and the abstract of the article is here. Dr. Ethell was awarded FRAXA Research Foundation funding from 2008-2011 and 2012-present. This latest work shows that human Fragile X tissues have elevated levels of the extracellular enzyme MMP-9, as well as an increase in the active fraction of that protein (like most enzymes, MMP-9 can exist in an inactive form which can be switched on rapidly; this kind of regulation is important in most biological pathways.) The Ethell lab also showed that genetic reduction of MMP-9 rescues most Fragile X phenotypes in the mouse model. Previous work had shown that inhibition of MMP-9 with minocycline also had similar effects, but minocycline has many different actions. These experiments demonstrate conclusively that MMP-9 inhibition is the activeRead more
With a $157,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation in 201202013, Dr. Kendal Broadie and Dr. Cheryl Gatto worked to define the distinct but also overlapping roles for MMP-1 and MMP-2 in synaptic structural and functional development. In drug studies with Fragile X fruit flies, they will be testing a range of MMPIs in drug treatments to compare effectiveness during development and at maturity, in order to define the contributions of FXS developmental impairments and adult recovery/plasticity.
Results of the First Clinical Trial of Minocycline in Fragile X Patients were Published Today, and They Suggest That This Medication can Improve Challenging Behaviors Commonly Seen in Fragile X. Twenty males and females with Fragile X, ages 13-32, participated in this open-label add-on trial at the Fragile X clinic in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Carlo Paribello, himself father of two boys with Fragile X, led the trial which was funded by FRAXA. Patients received either 100 mg or 200 mg of minocycline daily, and their behaviors were evaluated prior to treatment and again 8 weeks after daily minocycline. Behavioral scores showed striking improvement and the drug was generally well tolerated. The most significant side effect noted was, in blood tests, an asymptomatic seroconversion to a positive ANA in two people. This is a nonspecific marker of immunoinflammatory connective tissue diseases, so physicians who prescribe minocycline should be aware of itsRead more
With a $220,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 3 years, Dr. Iryna Ethell from the University of California at Riverside studied the regulation of dendritic structure by matrix metalloproteinases and other extracellular signaling pathways. This work identified a major treatment strategy for Fragile X with the available MMP-9 inhibitor, minocycline.
Study leader Iryna Ethell awarded FRAXA Breakthrough Award for 2008 A University of California Riverside team of scientists has found that an available drug called minocycline, used widely to treat acne and skin infections, might also be used to treat Fragile X. The study’s findings have already led to the approval of a FRAXA-funded clinical trial in Toronto, Canada, that will test minocycline in patients with Fragile X. Neurons in the brain communicate with each other at specialized contact sites called synapses, with many of these synapses occurring on small mushroom-shaped structures called dendritic spines. During early development dendritic spines have immature finger-like shapes. But learning stabilizes the synapses and dendritic spines take on a mature mushroom shape, which make them more efficient. The brains of patients with Fragile X syndrome have an overabundance of immature dendritic spines. In their report, the researchers, led by Iryna Ethell and Douglas Ethell,Read more
With a $40,000 grant from FRAXA, Dr. Carlo Paribello and his team at the Surrey Place Centre Fragile X clinic in Toronto, Ontario, ran an open label trial to see if minocycline can improve learning and reduce anxiety and behavioral problems in people with Fragile X. Twenty participants between the ages of 13 and 35 years take minocycline for two months.