Under the guidance of our Scientific Advisory Board through a carefully managed grants process, FPWR selects research projects based on the collaborative input of researchers and parents, choosing projects that are both scientifically meritorious and highly relevant for individuals with PWS and their families.

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Investigating a New Potential Target for Treatment in Prader-Willi Syndrome

Funded Year: 2019

Dr. Rice and colleagues have shown that there is a decrease in GABA (a compound that helps turn brain activity off) in the brains of individuals with PWS, and this is associated with emotional problems, including a tendency for temper outbursts. In this project, the team will use brain imaging (fMRI) to examine whether a GABA-modulating drug...

Influences of Social Cognition and Reward on ASD Symptoms and Behavior in PWS

Funded Year: 2019

Social cognition, or the ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of others, is impaired in Prader-Willi syndrome. Social reward circuitry (which places value on things in our environment) may also be altered. This impairment may contribute to oppositional behavior and ASD symptoms, which are common in PWS.

A Mouse Model to Assess Genetic Therapies for Prader-Willi Syndrome

Funded Year: 2019

Genetic therapy has the potential to address the root cause of PWS, however, several feasibility questions need to be answered before we can consider genetic therapy for PWS. For example: Does activation of the PWS genes reverse symptoms in models of PWS? Which genes must be turned on? Does gene activation need to occur before a specific age in...

Enhancing Satiation Signaling to Reduce Overeating and Obesity in Prader-Willi Syndrome

Funded Year: 2019

Lack of satiety, or feeling 'full', is a hallmark characteristic of PWS. Satiety mechanisms are not well understood, and it is not clear how the stomach signals the brain to stop eating. It is believed, however, that the vagus nerve to hind brain connection (NTS) may be a key part of this mechanism. In this project, Dr. Edward Fox will...

The Functional Development of Hunger Neurons in Prader-Willi Syndrome

Funded Year: 2019

AgRP ('hunger') neurons are found in the hypothalamus and control feeding, metabolism and compulsive behaviors. There is evidence that AgRP neurons may be overactive during development in PWS, which might lead to some of the characteristics of PWS. In this project, Dr. Dietrich will use a cutting edge technology developed in his lab to evaluate...

CRISPR-mediated molecular dissection of Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2019

The PWS region of chromosome 15 consists of several genes. While we know the loss of all these genes together will lead to the characteristics of PWS, we still don’t know exactly what is the contribution of each gene. In this project, Dr Talkowski's team will use CRISPR technology (a very precise way to cut out parts of the genome) to develop...

Genomewide identification of mRNA sites of 2’-O methylation targeted by SNORD116 snoRNAs

Funded Year: 2019

While we know the loss of SNORD116 (a gene that encodes many snoRNA molecules on Chromosome 15) leads to characteristics of PWS, we do not know how this exactly works. We need to understand how SNORD116 functions normally in order to understand why the loss of this region leads to PWS. It is likely that the snoRNAs in the SNORD116 region modify...

Targeting SMCHD1 to address the underlying cause of PWS and SYS

Funded Year: 2019

Associate Professor Blewitt and her research team study how genes shift between ‘sleeping’ to ‘awake’ states, and how this impacts a range of diseases. “A protein called SMCHD1 keeps many genes in their sleeping state,” Associate Professor Blewitt said. “We discovered that SMCHD1’s targets include some of the maternal genes that are involved in...

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