Anorexia Specific Drug: Low Doses of Atypical Antipsychotic Drug Showed Success In Study

There is currently no approved drug for anorexia nervosa, a common and occasionally fatal eating disorder. Research showed that low doses of a commonly used atypical antipsychotic drug improved the survival rate in a mouse model of anorexia. As many as one percent of American women have the disease and only one-third of those ever receive treatment.

Mice treated with a low dose of olanzapine were more likely to maintain their weight when given restricted diets and an exercise wheel – the environment that produces activity-based anorexia (ABA). The antidepressant fluoxetine, commonly prescribed off-label for anorexia did not improve survival.

“We found over and over again that olanzapine was effective in harsher conditions, less harsh conditions, adolescents, adults – it consistently worked,” said first author Stephanie Klenotich, a graduate student in the Committee on Neurobiology at the University of Chicago Biological Sciences.

“Anorexia nervosa is the most deadly psychiatric disorder, and yet no approved pharmacological treatments exist,” explained Stephanie Dulawa, Ph.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago Medicine and senior author. “One wonders why there isn’t more basic science work being done to better understand the mechanisms and to identify novel pharmacological treatments.”

The mice were treated with fluoxetine, olanzapine or saline and put through the ABA protocols. Treatment with olanzapine significantly increased survival and it did so without sedative side effects.

“We can dissect the effect of olanzapine and hopefully identify the mechanisms of action, and identify what receptor systems we want to target,” Klenotich said. “Hopefully we can develop a newer drug that we can aim towards the eating disorders clinic as an anorexic-specific drug that might be a little more acceptable to patients.”

Sources: ScienceDaily, Neuropsychopharmacology
Photo: Pixabay

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