CRISPR/Cas9 was used by MIT researchers to remove the molecular tags that keep the mutant gene shut off in Fragile X syndrome neurons and resulted in some of them producing protein normally. Much work is being done right now, with exciting new discoveries coming at a fast and furious pace.
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.
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
New York University scientists make progress developing biomarker signatures and cataloging the types of Fragile X patients who will most likely benefit from new therapies Take a closer look at your son or daughter with Fragile X syndrome. If you meet another child with Fragile X syndrome, chances are he/she may seem totally different to you, yet everyone is united under a FXS diagnosis. Discovering the biological reasons behind these differences is key to identifying which children will respond to what treatment. But how do you find the ‘prediction formula’? New York University scientists may soon know. Co-Principal Investigators Eric Klann, professor, NYU Center for Neural Science, and Aditi Bhattacharya, Independent Investigator, Center for Brain Development, inStem, Bangalore and Heather Bowling, PhD, a post-doc fellow, are working together in the second year of a FRAXA-funded study to develop reliable and relevant biomarkers to examine new therapeutics. Their current research isRead more
A potential new treatment for Fragile X syndrome is showing promise. While still early in development, the investigational drug was able to improve intellectual, learning and hyperactivity measures in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome. Anavex 2-73 is a sigma-1 receptor agonist being developed for autism spectrum disorders, including Rett syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, and for Alzheimer’s disease. Anavex Life Sciences presented the data at the Gordon Research Conference for Fragile X and Autism-Related Disorders, held June 5-10, 2016 in Mount Snow, VT. The study was sponsored by FRAXA, via the FRAXA Drug Validation Initiative, and performed by Fraunhofer Chile Research, in Santiago, Chile. “The ANAVEX 2-73 data in an array of behavioral paradigms in a validated mouse model of Fragile X is very encouraging. The results are promising for both Fragile X syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders, since there is an overlap in the clinical as well asRead more
One of the outcome measures - the new Fragile X Syndrome Rating Scale - showing positive results. Blue: placebo; Yellow: low-dose trofinetide; Green: high-dose trofinetide We are pleased to share great news adapted from Neuren’s press release: Neuren’s phase 2 trial has successfully established proof of concept and provides a strong rationale for Neuren to move forward with developing trofinetide for Fragile X syndrome. In this initial small trial with a relatively short treatment period, trofinetide was very well tolerated, with the high dose (70 mg/kg twice daily) demonstrating a consistent pattern of clinical improvement, observed in both clinician and caregiver assessments. After only 28 days of treatment, improvements were seen across core symptoms of Fragile X syndrome, including higher sensory tolerance, reduced anxiety, better self-regulation and more social engagement. No serious adverse events were reported. Positive Results in Fragile X Syndrome and Rett Syndrome Beneficial effects of trofinetide have now been observed in both FragileRead more
Promising Results in Phase 2 Clinical Trial This isn’t a Fragile X trial, but the Neuren compound, NNZ-2566, that is in trials now for Fragile X has shown significant positive effects in a Phase 2 trial for Rett syndrome. The results of the trial are interesting, in that improvement was seen a Rett syndrome-specific rating scale compared to placebo, and there was also improvement noted on the CGI-I (Clinical Global Impression of Improvement) and Caregiver Top 3 Concerns. However, there was no effect seen on ABC scores (Aberrant Behavior Checklist) compared to placebo. Many in the Fragile X field have noted the inadequacies of the ABC; indeed, it was never designed or intended to be an outcome measure for clinical trials. In this case, a Rett-specific rating scale called the Motor-Behavior Assessment (MBA) showed a statistically significant and clinically meaningful treatment effect at the highest dose of the Neuren compoundRead more
New Zealand-Based Biotech Neuren Pharmaceuticals Has Announced Impressive Preclinical Results in the Fragile X Mouse Model with Trofinetide. These compounds are examples of a new class of drugs based on insulin-like growth factors (IGF-1). IGF analogs are currently considered the most promising approach for treating Rett Syndrome, a fatal genetic disorder that affects only girls, and one of the other leading genetic models for the study of autism (along with Fragile X). The surprising news is that FRAXA researchers have found that this treatment strategy works even better in Fragile X knockout mice than in Rett syndrome mice! FRAXA’s strategy is to find and target the critical bottlenecks which block the way to development of treatments. In this case, a small pharma company with interesting compounds approached FRAXA to get it tested in Fragile X. The Drug Validation Initiative, or DVI, a testing facility in Chile funded by FRAXA, wasRead 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.
With a $70,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation from 2001-2003, Dr. Assam El-Osta and his team at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute studied mechanisms of methylation dependent silencing of FMR1, as well as regulation by histone acetylation/deacetylation.