FRAXA Research Foundation has awarded a $90,000 research grant to principal investigator Dr. Xinyu Zhao and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Minjie Shen at the University of Wisconsin. They are investigating whether drugs that boost mitochondria could treat Fragile X syndrome.
We all know that mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Neurons need a lot of energy during their development, and when they perform daily functions.
Work from the Dr. Xinyu Zhao’s lab and many other labs shows that neurons in Fragile X mice do not develop normally. Fragile X neurons have smaller mitochondria which do not work as well. When they treated Fragile X mice with mitochondria-enhancing compounds, they were able to correct some of the behavioral deficits seen in these mice. This data suggests that mitochondria might be a potential new treatment target for Fragile X syndrome.
The team believes that the next key step is to extend these findings to humans. In this project, Dr. Shen will determine whether human Fragile X neurons exhibit mitochondrial impairment and whether mitochondria-enhancing compounds can correct neuronal development deficits of these neurons.
Follow this link to see an interview with Dr. Zhao discussing her Fragile X research: https://www.fraxa.org/targeting-mitochondria-in-human-fragile-x-syndrome-neurons/