Just as Rett research is gaining momentum, federal research dollars are declining, making the role of RSRT more essential than ever.
Trumbull, CT (PRWEB) January 28, 2014
Continuing to expand the depth and breadth of high-impact research, the Rett Syndrome Research Trust (RSRT) awarded a record $7.2 million to new scientific explorations in 2013. Since RSRT’s inception five years ago, the organization has committed almost $20 million to novel research and basic science to decode and defeat Rett Syndrome.
This investment is made possible through the enterprise of highly motivated families and supporters of children and adults with Rett Syndrome in the United States, and through our growing global alliances listed below. We are especially grateful for our partnership with Reverse Rett (UK), Rett Syndrome Research & Treatment Foundation (Israel) and the MECP2 Duplication Syndrome community.
Rett Syndrome is caused by mutations in a gene called MECP2 that causes numerous devastating symptoms that worsen over time. These begin to manifest in early childhood and leave Rett sufferers completely dependent on 24-hour-a-day care for the rest of their lives. While the function of MECP2 remains elusive we know that it acts globally and impacts numerous systems in the body.
RSRT stimulates, organizes and funds research to defeat this disorder via three essential approaches:
- Treatment - Targeting downstream effects of MECP2 mutations via drugs and/or procedures. This is largely a symptom-by-symptom approach to relieving some of Rett Syndrome’s many manifestations and improving quality of life.
- Basic science – Investing in rigorous science to develop an accurate, detailed knowledge base of the neurobiology of Rett as a direct conduit to the creation of new strategies to overcome it.
- Reversal - Approaches that target the underlying cause of Rett, aberrations in MECP2, in efforts to actualize the 2007 pre-clinical reversal for human clinical application. Included are gene therapy; activation of the silent MECP2 gene on the inactive X; identification and deployment of modifier genes.
This past summer saw a flurry of high-profile papers published by RSRT-funded scientists. Among these was a study from Gail Mandel showing, for the first time, the reversal of multiple symptoms in adult female mice using gene therapy. Advancing to human clinical trials will require optimizing vectors, delivery routes and definitively ruling out the potential for toxicity due to overexpression of the MeCP2 protein.
To achieve those goals, RSRT launched the MECP2 Gene Therapy Consortium bringing together the labs of Gail Mandel and Stuart Cobb and their expertise in Rett /MeCP2 with those of Steven Gray and Brian Kaspar, with substantive vector design/development and gene therapy clinical trial experience.
RSRT’s original consortium, the MECP2 Consortium, organized in 2011 to address the function of MECP2, has had a highly successful first phase. Building on this momentum, RSRT has renewed funding for this unique international collaboration between the laboratories of Adrian Bird, Michael Greenberg, and Gail Mandel. RSRT is extremely grateful to its Board Chairman, Tony Schoener and his wife Kathy, for the initial million-dollar lead gift that launched this collaboration and their recent second million-dollar pledge to continue the work.
“Just as Rett research is gaining momentum, federal research dollars are declining, making the role of RSRT more essential than ever. If, like Kathy and I, you love a child with Rett and want nothing more than to see her restored to health, then I invite you to join us in our critical work,” says Tony Schoener.
“One of my prime responsibilities is to identify barriers to the development of therapeutics, troubleshoot and problem solve. Making progress by leaps rather than small incremental steps requires forging bold and innovative ways of conducting research that will maximize resources, save time and deliver results. We thank our donors for their trust and support. We look forward to reporting on our progress, ” says Monica Coenraads, Executive Director of RSRT.
A complete list of 2013 awards follows categorized by approach:
- $600,000 to support two clinical trials testing Copaxone in people
Aleksandra Djukic - Tri-State Rett Syndrome Center at Montefiore
Bruria Ben Zeev - Sheba Medical Center
- $150,000 to David Katz at Case Western Reserve University
Preclinical evaluation of therapeutics that modulate the NMDA pathway that controls synaptic plasticity and memory.
- $130,000 to Michela Fagiolini at Boston Children’s Hospital
A joint collaboration between RSRT, Mnemosyne Pharmaceutical and Boston Children’s Hospital to peform preclinical testing of selective novel NMDA receptor modulators.
- $72,000 to Aleksandra Djukic at Tri-State Rett Syndrome Center at Montefiore
Support for continuing work at the Rett Syndrome Center.
- 50,000 to Mark Bear of MIT
To explore potential benefits of pharmacological manipulations of mGluR signaling.
- $3.4 million to the MECP2 Consortium
Adrian Bird - University of Edinburgh
Michael Greenberg - Harvard University
Gail Mandel - Oregon Health and Sciences University
- $1.6 Million to launch the MECP2 Gene Therapy Consortium
Gail Mandel - Oregon Health and Sciences University
Stuart Cobb - University of Glasgow
Steve Gray - University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Brian Kaspar - Nationwide Children’s Hospital
- $750,000 to Michael Green at University of Massachusetts
Testing drugs that modulate X chromosome inactivation to reactivate the silent MECP2.
- $367,000 to Huda Zoghbi of Baylor College of Medicine
To conduct a screen to discover compounds that can reduce levels of MeCP2 for the duplication/triplication syndrome. These funds were awarded via the MECP2 Duplication Syndrome Fund at RSRT.
- $100,000 to Jeannie Lee at Harvard University
To explore a novel approach to awaken the MECP2 gene by disrupting the binding that occurs between the lncRNA and the Polycomb complexes.
- $39,000 to Kevin Foust at Ohio State University
To explore using gene therapy to deliver RNA interference to lower the amount of MeCP2 protein. These funds were awarded via the MECP2 Duplication Syndrome Fund at RSRT.
About Rett Syndrome
Rett Syndrome, the most physically disabling of the autism spectrum disorders, is caused by random mutations in the gene MECP2. Predominantly affecting girls, a frightening regression in toddlerhood robs children of the ability to speak, move normally and use their hands. Disordered breathing, Parkinsonian tremors, severe anxiety, seizures, digestive, circulatory and orthopedic problems typically appear. Although most children survive to adulthood they require total round-the-clock care.
About the Rett Syndrome Research Trust
The Rett Syndrome Research Trust is a non-profit exclusively devoted to global research on Rett Syndrome and related MECP2 disorders. Our goal is to heal children and adults who will otherwise suffer the effects of these disorders for the rest of their lives. To learn more about the Trust, please visit http://www.ReverseRett.org
Our partners in supporting this work are parents' organizations worldwide including Reverse Rett (UK), Rett Syndrome Research & Treatment Foundation (Israel), Skye Wellesley Foundation (UK), Rett Syndrome & CDKL5 Ireland, Stichting Rett Syndrome (Holland), Rett Syndrom Deutschland and American organizations, Girl Power 2 Cure, Eva Fini Fund at RSRT, The Kate Foundation for Rett Syndrome Research, Rocky Mountain Rett Association, Claire’s Crusade and the New Jersey Rett Syndrome Association and the MECP2 Duplication Syndrome Fund at RSRT.