Novel Modulators of Potassium Channels to Treat Fragile X

Novel Modulators of Potassium Channels to Treat Fragile X

With funding from FRAXA over 2015-2017, the Yale University team of Leonard Kaczmarek, PhD showed that the firing patterns of auditory neurons in response to repeated stimulation is severely abnormal in Fragile X mice. Based on these results, they are collaborating with the UK-based company Autifony to develop advanced compounds which may reverse these deficits.

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Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate: Adenosine Receptors in Fragile X

Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate: Adenosine Receptors in Fragile X

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.

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Finding Fragile X Biomarkers – From Transcriptomics to Behavior in Patients

Finding Fragile X Biomarkers – From Transcriptomics to Behavior in Patients

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. 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.

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Research Points to Drugs which Inhibit PDE to Treat Fragile X

Research Points to Drugs which Inhibit PDE to Treat Fragile X

FRAXA Research Foundation funded a grant of $90,000 over 2016-2018, for a postdoctoral fellowship for Thomas Maurin, PhD, working under the mentorship of Dr. Barbara Bardoni at INSERM in France. The team works on the biochemistry of the Fragile X protein. They have found that PDE inhibitors (a class of drugs) show promise as treatments for Fragile X syndrome. In related research, FRAXA is currently funding a clinical trial of PDE4D inhibitors.

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How Promising is CRISPR for Fragile X?

How Promising is CRISPR for Fragile X?

Peter Todd, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology in the University of Michigan Medical School, was recently awarded a FRAXA Research Grant for gene reactivation with the use of CRISPR. In this interview he tells us about CRISPR in Fragile X research, how realistic is it that it could turn the Fragile X gene back on, and if it can really be a cure for Fragile X.

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In Their Own Words: Reports From the International Fragile X Workshop

In Their Own Words: Reports From the International Fragile X Workshop

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.

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Function of FMRP and Test of a Novel Therapeutic Approach in a Fragile X Mouse Model

Function of FMRP and Test of a Novel Therapeutic Approach in a Fragile X Mouse Model

With a 2015-2016 $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Herve Moine and Dr. Andrea Geoffroy aim to uncover the exact role of FMRP and to test a novel possible means to correct for FMRP absence in the mouse model of Fragile X syndrome.

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Fragile X Mutant Mouse Facility

Fragile X Mutant Mouse Facility

With $375,000 in grants from the FRAXA Research Foundation since 2009, Dr. David Nelson has developed an impressive array of advanced mouse models of Fragile X, at Baylor College of Medicine. These models are available to investigators worldwide on request. This resource has been essential for a broad, rapid distribution of Fragile X and related gene mouse models and has increased the pace of Fragile X research.

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Repurposing Drugs to Dampen Hyperactive Nonsense-Mediated Decay in Fragile X Syndrome

Repurposing Drugs to Dampen Hyperactive Nonsense-Mediated Decay in Fragile X Syndrome

With a $90,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Lynne Maquat and Dr. Tatsuaki Kurosaki will investigate nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) in Fragile X. NMD is a “housekeeping” process that cells use to prevent faulty proteins from being made. But there is too much of it in Fragile X syndrome. There are already available drugs that suppress NMD – including caffeine.

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Boston Bruins Grant Funds New Fragile X Research

Boston Bruins Grant Funds New Fragile X Research
Boston Bruins Foundation’s $90,000 commitment to FRAXA Bruins Foundation Executive Director Bob Sweeney pledging a $90,000 donation to FRAXA Research today at Shared Living Collaborative’s Gateway Farm in Merrimac, MA. The award will enable the organization to fund an entirely new research project aimed at developing new treatments for Fragile X, a genetic syndrome that is the most common inherited cause of autism. #NHLBruins A photo posted by Boston Bruins (@nhlbruins) on May 28, 2015 at 10:29am PDT The new fellowship to be funded by this award goes to Drs. Lynne Maquat and Tatsuaki Kurosaki of the University of Rochester. They will investigate nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) in Fragile X. NMD is a “housekeeping” process that cells use to prevent faulty proteins from being made. But there is too much of it in Fragile X syndrome. There are already available drugs that suppress NMD – including caffeine -- and so If this projectRead more

FRAXA Grant to Nahum Sonenberg, PhD — Effects of metformin in Fmr1 knockout mouse model of Fragile X syndrome

FRAXA Grant to Nahum Sonenberg, PhD — Effects of metformin in Fmr1 knockout mouse model of Fragile X syndrome

2015 Program Grant funded for $100,000 Mis-regulation of activity-dependent protein synthesis is one of the major cellular abnormalities found in Fragile X.  Upstream neuronal signaling regulates a large cluster of enzymes called the mTORC1 complex, which in turn regulates protein synthesis.  This complex is also controlled by cellular energy levels via the metabolic sensor AMP-activated Protein Kinase (AMPK).  AMPK is a highly conserved kinase that is activated under conditions of energy stress, when intracellular ATP levels decline and intracellular AMP increases.  AMPK normally mediates mTORC1 suppression, but AMPK appears to be decreased in Fragile X. Metformin, an FDA-approved drug, is widely used as a first-line therapy for type 2, and is a well known activator of AMPK.  It controls gene expression at the level of mRNA translation, comparable to the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin. This project will explore the potential of metformin and related compounds to rescue known abnormalities in Fragile

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Inhibitors of STEP as a Novel Treatment of Fragile X Syndrome

Inhibitors of STEP as a Novel Treatment of Fragile X Syndrome

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.

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Functional Interplay Between FMRP and CDK5 Signaling

Functional Interplay Between FMRP and CDK5 Signaling

With a $180,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation over 2011-2014, Dr. Yue Feng and Dr. Wenqi Li at Emory University will study CDK5 pathway function and regulation in an effort to break down whether and how CDK5 signaling is affected by the loss of the Fragile X protein, FMRP, in the Fragile X mouse model.

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Functional Interplay Between FMRP and CDK5 Signaling

Functional Interplay Between FMRP and CDK5 Signaling

Yue Feng, PhD — Emory University School of Medicine with Wenqi Li, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow FRAXA Awards:  $180,000 $45,000 in 2013 renewed for $45,000 in 2014 $45,000 in 2011 renewed for $45,000 in 2012     Weakened synaptic development and synaptic plasticity, as a result of lacking the functional Fragile X protein (FMRP), underlies the intellectual disability in Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). Decades of  investigation established the role of FMRP in binding its mRNA targets and regulating translation in response to neuronal and synaptic activity changes. Exciting discoveries on two receptors, mGluR5 and GABA, signaling in FXS animal models have led to promising therapeutic approaches based on variation of synaptic activity by mGluR5 antagonists and GABA agonists. However, clinical trials only achieved partial reverse of FXS phenotype. Thus, developing additional therapeutic strategies for treating the full spectrum of FXS symptoms are still pressing challenges. The identification of genome-wide  Fragile X protein (FMRP)  target mRNAs by recent discoveries provides important clues

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Scientists Uncover Trigger for Fragile X Syndrome

Scientists Uncover Trigger for Fragile X Syndrome
Finding May Explain Many Brain Disorders, Lead to Prevention and Treatment adapted from Weill Cornell Medical College press release A new study led by Weill Cornell Medical College scientists shows that Fragile X syndrome occurs because of a mechanism that shuts off the gene associated with the disease. The findings, published today in Science, also show that a compound that blocks this silencing mechanism can prevent Fragile X syndrome – suggesting a similar therapy may be possible for 20 other diseases that range from mental retardation to multisystem failure. While researchers have known for more than two decades that the culprit behind Fragile X is an unusual mutation characterized by the excess repetition of a particular segment of the genetic code, they weren’t sure why the presence of a large number of these repetitions – 200 or more – sets the disease process in motion. Using stem cells from donated human embryos thatRead more

Fragile X Syndrome Protein Linked to Breast Cancer Progression

Having Fragile X Syndrome May Protect Against Breast Cancer Claudia Bagni (VIB/KU Leuven, Belgium, and the University of Rome, Italy) and colleagues have identified the way Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein or FMRP contributes to the progression of breast cancer. The researchers demonstrated that FMRP acts as a master switch controlling the levels of several proteins involved in different stages of aggressive breast cancer, including the invasion of cancer cells into blood vessels and the spread of these cancer cells to other tissues forming metastasis. The work is published online in EMBO Molecular Medicine. The authors identified high levels of FMRP in human breast cancer tissue microarrays and also examined the effects of FMRP levels in a mouse model to study breast cancer. In these mice, high levels of FMRP in primary breast cancer tumors were also linked to the spread of the cancer to the lungs and the developmentRead more

Ab-Mediated Translation in Fragile X Syndrome

Ab-Mediated Translation in Fragile X Syndrome

With a $120,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation during 2011-2012, Dr. Cara Westmark at the University of Wisconsin explored the role of AbPP as a potential treatment option for fragile X. AbPP produces b-amyloid which is over-expressed in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Down syndrome. 

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Synaptic Actin Signaling Pathways in Fragile X

Synaptic Actin Signaling Pathways in Fragile X

With a $163,356 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation in 2010-12, Dr. Scott Soderling and Dr. Hwan Kim at Duke University bred the standard mouse model of Fragile X syndrome to their lines of mice that express reduced levels of several key proteins that modulate synaptic actin. These compound mutant mice were compared to FXS mice to determine if genetically impairing pathways to the actin cytoskeleton can rescue deficits in the FXS mice.

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Genetic and Pharmacologic Manipulation of PI3K Activity in FXS: Assessing Potential Therapeutic Value

Genetic and Pharmacologic Manipulation of PI3K Activity in FXS: Assessing Potential Therapeutic Value

With a $90,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation, Dr. Gary Bassell and his team at Emory University explored the PI3K/mTOR signaling complex in FXS via genetic and pharmacologic rescue approaches, to reduce the enzymatic function of specific components of this complex pathway in an FXS mouse model.

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Inherited Channelopathies in Cortical Circuits of Fmr1 KO Mice

Inherited Channelopathies in Cortical Circuits of Fmr1 KO Mice
With this $90,000 award, Dr. Zhang and Principal Investigator Dr. Andreas Frick at Neurocentre Magendie in France investigated channelopathies using Fragile X mice. $90,000 GrantAndreas Frick, PhD Principal Investigator Yu Zhang, PhD FRAXA Postdoctoral Fellow Neurocentre Magendie 2010-11 FRAXA Research Grant $90,000 over 2 Years   Many other proteins are misregulated as a result of the absence of FMRP. It is known that many ion channels, the pores in the cell membrane which allow neurons to conduct electrical impulses, have altered levels in Fragile X. This state is sometime called a “channelopathy” in the pharma world. This group is studying the effect of specific alterations in ion channels, and potential therapeutic effects of drugs which open and close these channels. The mammalian neocortex is central for processes as diverse as sensory information processing, perception or control of motor activity, and cortical defects have devastating neurological and psychiatric consequences. In humans, the consequencesRead more

Role of JNK in FMRP Regulated Translation in Fragile X Syndrome

Role of JNK in FMRP Regulated Translation in Fragile X Syndrome

With a $90,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2 years, Dr. Michael Wilhelm and his team at the University of Wisconsin studied a protein known as JNK, which is observed to be abnormally regulated in Fragile X. Like FMRP, it is involved in regulating dendritic protein synthesis, and so it may be a target for drug therapy in Fragile X.

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The Slack Potassium Ion channel as a Therapeutic Target for Fragile X Syndrome

A paper on this work has been published in Journal of Neuroscience on 2010 August 4: Fragile X mental retardation protein is required for rapid experience-dependent regulation of the potassium channel Kv3.1b by Leonard Kaczmarek, PhD and Jack Kronengold, PhD Our laboratory has investigated how the excitability of neurons becomes modified in the absence of the FMRP protein. We have found that the levels of two potassium channels, termed Slack and Kv3.1 are altered in mice that lack this protein. We have made significant progress in identifying novel pharmacological activators of the Slack potassium channel for potential therapeutic intervention in FXS individuals. The Slack potassium channel is widely expressed in the brain. Using neurons of the central auditory system, our laboratory has demonstrated that Slack is required for accurate timing of action potentials in response to synaptic stimuli. This channel is activated by the FMRP protein through a direct association

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