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Emerging pharmacologic treatment options for fragile X syndrome

Authors Schaefer T, Davenport M, Erickson C

Received 17 May 2014

Accepted for publication 11 December 2014

Published 7 April 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 75—93

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/TACG.S35673

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Martin H. Maurer


Tori L Schaefer, Matthew H Davenport, Craig A Erickson

Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA

Abstract: Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common single gene cause of intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. Caused by a silenced fragile X mental retardation 1 gene and the subsequent deficiency in fragile X mental retardation protein, patients with FXS experience a range of physical, behavioral, and intellectual debilitations. The FXS field, as a whole, has recently met with some challenges, as several targeted clinical trials with high expectations of success have failed to elucidate significant improvements in a variety of symptom domains. As new clinical trials in FXS are planned, there has been much discussion about the use of the commonly used clinical outcome measures, as well as study design considerations, patient stratification, and optimal age range for treatment. The evidence that modification of these drug targets and use of these failed compounds would prove to be efficacious in human clinical study were rooted in years of basic and translational research. There are questions arising as to the use of the mouse models for studying FXS treatment development. This issue is twofold: many of the symptom domains and molecular and biochemical changes assessed and indicative of efficacy in mouse model study are not easily amenable to clinical trials in people with FXS because of the intolerability of the testing paradigm or a lack of noninvasive techniques (prepulse inhibition, sensory hypersensitivity, startle reactivity, or electrophysiologic, biochemical, or structural changes in the brain); and capturing subtle yet meaningful changes in symptom domains such as sociability, anxiety, and hyperactivity in human FXS clinical trials is challenging with the currently used measures (typically parent/caregiver rating scales). Clinicians, researchers, and the pharmaceutical industry have all had to take a step back and critically evaluate the way we think about how to best optimize future investigations into pharmacologic FXS treatments. As new clinical trials are coming down the drug discovery pipeline, it is clear that the field is moving in a direction that values the development of molecular biomarkers, less subjective quantitative measures of symptom improvement, and rating scales developed specifically for use in FXS in conjunction with drug safety. While summarizing preclinical evidence, where applicable, and discussing challenges in FXS treatment development, this review details both completed clinical trials for the targeted and symptomatic treatment of FXS and introduces novel projects on the cusp of clinical trial investigation.

Keywords: anxiety, intellectual disability, autism, clinical trial, fragile X syndrome

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