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Parents report a widely prescribed antibiotic is effective for fragile X treatment
Date:9/8/2010

of disabilities, from learning disorders to mild-to-severe intellectual impairment (mental retardation) and behavioral and emotional problems. It also is associated with certain physical characteristics, including prominent ears and flexible finger joints. The symptoms typically are more severe in boys than in girls.

Minocycline is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for adolescent acne and has been in use since its introduction in the 1960s. The drug also has been found to have neuroprotective qualities and in animal models improves neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Huntington's. Interest in its use in human patients with fragile X surged after a 2009 study found that minocycline improved cognition in mice genetically engineered to have fragile X. That study's senior author was Iryna M. Ethell of UC Riverside, who also is an author with Hagerman of the current research.

Ethell and her colleagues in 2009 found that minocycline lowers the levels of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9), an enzyme present in the normal brain whose levels and activity are over-expressed in the fragile X mouse. MMP9 inhibits development of structures called dendritic spines, tiny mushroom-like projections at the ends of synapses that allow neural cells to communicate. Lowering the amount and activity of MMP9 strengthens the dendritic spines and improves the establishment and maintenance of circuits in the brain.

"It's really exciting to see applications like this of our mouse-model research," Ethell said.

For the parent study, Hagerman prescribed minocycline to patients at the Fragile X Research and Treatment Center at the MIND Institute. Other participants were treated elsewhere by their primary-care physicians. The study included a total of 53 patients, three of whom dropped out after a few days because of side effects. The remaining 50 participants, seven females and 43 males, took the drug for between two weeks and 20 mont
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Contact: Phyllis Brown
phyllis.brown@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9023
University of California - Davis - Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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