There has to date been no medication that could alter the disorder's neurologic abnormalities. The study will evaluate safety, tolerability, and optimal dosage in healthy volunteers.
The work is the outcome of basic research that traced how an error in the fragile X mental retardation gene (FMR1) leads to changes in brain connections, called synapses. The changes in turn appear to be the mechanism for learning deficits in Fragile X syndrome. The new trial tests Seaside Therapeutics' novel compound, STX107, that selectively and potently targets the synaptic defect.
Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said, "This project is the culmination of years of fundamental research, first identifying the genetic mutation and later deciphering the biochemical consequences of this mutation. Now, with the initiation of this first clinical study, we move one step closer to understanding how this novel candidate may play a critical role in improving the lives of individuals with Fragile X Syndrome."
Randall Carpenter, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Seaside Therapeutics, and Mark Bear, Ph.D., Seaside's scientific founder, are leading the research. Dr. Bear is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a professor of neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
The National Institute of Mental Health, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) have provided grant support. Private foundations providing funding include the advocacy groups Autism Speaks and FRAXA Research Foundation.
Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability, affecting an estimated 1 in 4,000 males and 1 in 6,000 females.
The syndrome causes a range of developmental problems, including learning disabilities and cognitive impairment. People with Fragile X syndrome may have anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. About one-third of males with Fragile X syndrome also have autism or autistic-like behavior that affects communication and social interaction. Usually, males, who have only a single X chromosome, are more severely affected than females.