Projects Archive - Foundation for Prader-Willi Research | Obesity and Energy Balance

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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Investigation of cerebellar control of striatal dopamine activity and food intake in PWS

Funded Year: 2022

These researchers have demonstrated that activation of a distinct class of cerebellar neurons dramatically decreases food intake by reducing meal size without compensatory changes to metabolic rate. In this proposal, we will characterize this novel cerebellar satiation network and evaluate whether this network is disrupted in PWS mouse models and...

Neurohormonal Controls of Energy Balance in the MAGEL2-Deficient Rat

Funded Year: 2020

Dr. Mietlicki-Baase and her team will investigate neural/neurohormonal control of energy balance in a rat model that lacks Magel2, a gene that is lost or mutated in Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Schaaf-Yang syndrome (SYS). They will test feeding motivation behaviors and examine the brain areas that control energy balance. They will also...

The gut microbiome in Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2018

Prader-Willi syndrome individuals show impaired social behaviors and altered oxytocin levels in the brain, but the reason for this remains unknown. Here we will test whether changes in the gut bacterial content in PWS could perturb social behaviors and related changes in oxytocin. In addition, we will examine whether a probiotic bacteria strain...

Loss of MAGEL2 and hypotonia in Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2016

Children with PWS are hypotonic (floppy) at birth. Their poor muscle tone causes delays in sitting and walking and contributes to orthopedic problems such as scoliosis. Reduced endurance lowers the number of calories they can consume per day to manage their body weight, and impairs their quality of life. Treatments that build muscle mass or...

Mitochondrial Complex I dysfunction in Prader Willi Syndrome: A new therapeutic target

Funded Year: 2016

Children with Prader-Willi syndrome suffer from very low muscle tone, growth delay, short stature, developmental delay, muscle weakness and exercise intolerance. Studies have suggested that there is a problem with energy metabolism in PWS but what kind of problem this is and how this leads to PWS is not clear at the present time. Many PWS patients...

Linking the cellular function of MAGEL-2 to its role in PWS

Funded Year: 2015

Background: MAGEL-2 is a gene frequently deleted or mutated in individuals affected with PWS. Furthermore, mice lacking MAGEL-2 display symptoms similar to those seen in PWS children. However, a critical barrier to our understanding of MAGEL-2’s link to PWS has been determining its function within cells. Recently, my group has solved this...

Nutritional aspects of PWS and childhood obesity: a metabolomics approach

Funded Year: 2014

In Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) the progression from poor appetite and failure-to-thrive (FTT) to obesity and voracious appetite is complex and takes several years. We have recently shown that there are 6 distinct post-natal nutritional phases in PWS. By looking at the end products of cellular processes in individuals with PWS before and after the...

Gut microbiome in individuals with PWS

Funded Year: 2014

Prader-willi syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by loss of a portion of a copy of chromosome 15. Common features include early problems with muscle weakness and feeding followed by occult weight gain without an increase in food consumption beginning during late infancy/early toddler period prior to the onset of hyperphagia. Recent research has...

Investigation of ghrelin-o-acyltransferase as a target for treating hyperphagia in Prader-Willi syndrome (Year 1)

Funded Year: 2013

Obesity and insatiable appetite (hyperphagia) are among the most serious symptoms experienced by Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) patients. While many of the causes underlying PWS symptoms remain unknown, the discovery of the protein hormone ghrelin and its role in controlling appetite has led researchers to investigate the possible role of ghrelin in...

Establishment of an in vitro model of muscle cells derived from primary fibroblasts to study dysregulation of translational capacity in PWS

Funded Year: 2013

Previous results showed that our physical rehabilitation program could induce weight loss in a group of adult PWS patients, but failed to improve their muscular mass (Grolla et al.2010). The loss of muscle mass affects elderly, obese and PWS patients leading to frailty and impaired quality of life. It is becoming apparent, using animal models,...

Targeting the peripheral endocanniabinoid system for the treatment of obesity in a mouse model of PWS

Funded Year: 2013

Extreme obesity is one of the major health problems related to Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), yet there are few effective medications. Endocannabinoids (eCBs) are lipid signaling molecules that act on a cellular receptor, called the CB1 receptor. This receptor is present in the brain and in peripheral tissues, where it also recognizes the...

Evidence based approach to dietary management of PWS

Funded Year: 2013

: Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disease characterized by failure to thrive and low muscle tone during infancy, followed by food-seeking, insatiable appetite and progressive obesity in childhood. The resulting increases in total body fat and decreases in muscle mass lead to metabolic problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

Pancreatic and neuro-endocrine cell secretory pathway deficits in PWS

Funded Year: 2013

Many advances in recent years have added to our understanding of the genetic causes of PWS, including recognition of it as a disorder of genomic imprinting involving defective genes that normally only function after inheritance from the father. At least a dozen genes appear to contribute to the many clinical problems seen in PWS. Unfortunately the...

Nutritional aspects of Prader-Willi syndrome and childhood obesity: correlation of plasma orexin levels with nutritional phases

Funded Year: 2013

Early in infancy, babies with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) have no interest in feeding manifested by lack of crying for food and failure-to-thrive requiring assisted feeding with a G-tube, NG tube, or cross-cutting of bottle nipple (phase 1a). There is then a series of transition through five nutritional phases, ending in the classic PWS...

Generating a novel model of ghrelin-null Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2011

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a lack of muscle tone at birth, a failure to thrive in infancy, and mild learning disabilities. On emerging from infancy, children with PWS show reduced skeletal growth and an insatiable appetite, which, when combined with an obsession with food, results in obesity....

A pig model of PWS: a breakthrough for obesity, clinical and therapeutic studies

Funded Year: 2011

Overcoming the severe drive to overeat and obesity that provides the greatest threat to life expectancy and life quality is of upmost and crucial importance for PWS individuals and families. Despite advances in understanding the genetic causes of PWS and the establishment of different mouse models that mimic some clinical components, the...

Role of Kiss1 neurons in mediating grhrelin’s effect on effect on reproduction and metabolism (year 2)

Funded Year: 2011

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disorder characterized by impairment of a myriad of physiological systems including growth, development, metabolism and reproduction. Although the physiological deficits observed in individuals with PWS come to be well-recognized, the mechanisms and/or cause for the generation of these characteristics are...

Characterization of skeletal muscle abnormalities in mouse models of Prader-Willi syndrome: Functional role of Necdin?

Funded Year: 2011

One of the major clinical problems of patients with PWS is decreased muscle tone and muscle weakness leading to delayed gross motor milestones and additional clinical problems (e.g. scoliosis) later in life. Interestingly, there is significant lack of knowledge regarding the underlying abnormalities of skeletal Muscle in patients with PWS, nor is...

The relationship between serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels, BDNF haplotypes and neurocognitive performance in children with PWS

Funded Year: 2010

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disease characterized by failure to thrive and low muscle tone during infancy, followed by food-seeking and severe obesity in childhood. Other manifestations include altered pain perception, cognitive impairment, maladaptive behaviors (obsessive compulsive, temper tantrums, skin picking, rigid thinking and...

Exenatide: A potential treatment for hyperphagia and obesity in persons with Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2009

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a condition characterized by growth hormone deficiency, hypogonadism, various behavioral disturbances, an insatiable hunger drive (hyperphagia) and excessive eating leading to life-threatening obesity. The specific causes of the disturbed eating behavior in persons with PWS remain unknown. More importantly, effective...

The role of the midbrain dopaminergic reward circuitry in ghrelin's effects on food intake and body weight

Funded Year: 2009

Prader-Willi Syndrome is a disorder characterized by numerous medical conditions, including excessive eating, low metabolic rate, growth hormone deficiency, hypogonadism and various cognitive deficits. In fact, obese individuals with PWS are described as having a nearly constant state of hunger, which manifests in various maladaptive feeding...

Endocrine and molecular basis for Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2009

Despite years of study, we do not yet know the basis of Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), either the roles of the genes defective in PWS or the basis of the clinical features. Many people think the hypothalamus, a small brain region controlling appetite and many endocrine functions is solely responsible, yet this may not be the single cause and using a...

PYY and PP: Potential targets for co-treatment against hyperphagia and obesity

Funded Year: 2009

An insatiable appetite (hyperphagia), in conjunction with a low metabolic rate, means that obesity and all of its associated health risks are common in people with Prader-Willi syndrome. Overeating is one of the main barriers to independent living I adults with Prader-Willi syndrome. Moreover, attempts to control their food intake often lead to...

Exploring the potential mitochondrial dysfunction in mouse models of Prader-Willi syndrome

Funded Year: 2009

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), a genetic, metabolic and behavioral disorder, is caused by paternal deficiency for human chromosome 15. Clinic presentations include infantile hypotonia, difficult feeding, mental retardation, hypogonadism and obesity. Mitochondria play a critical role in metabolism, energy production and cell death. There are now a...

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