Researchers Tackle Ways of Dealing with Eating Disorders

According to a study, a large number of people who are struggling with eating disorders like anorexia have a “chronic course” which has a tendency of ending very badly for all parties involved.

A group of international scientists headed up at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) in La Jolla, CA has noted that possible genetic variations impact a patient’s recovery from eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.

“This study sheds light on important ‘SNPs’ or genetic variations within an individual’s DNA, associated with long-term, chronic eating disorders,” said Walter H. Kaye, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of UCSD’s Eating Disorder Treatment and Research Program, who was senior author with Nicholas J. Schork, Ph.D., director of bioinformatics and biostatistics at STSI and professor at The Scripps Research Institute. “These variations suggest genetic predictors for patients who may be particularly susceptible to eating disorders and whose illnesses are most difficult to treat effectively.”

According to the study’s lead author, Cinnamon Bloss, Ph.D., assistant professor at STSI, “Anorexia and bulimia likely stem from many different causes, such as culture, family, life changes and personality traits,” said Bloss. “But we know biology and genetics are highly relevant in terms of cause and can also play a role in how people respond to treatment. Understanding the genetics behind these conditions is important because it could eventually help us tailor treatment based on the person’s genetic makeup, with the goal of more personalized and effective treatments.”

“Individuals with anorexia, in particular, are often resistant to treatment and lack awareness of the medical consequences of their behavior, which can result in chronic, protracted illness and even death,” added Kaye. “The question for us became, ‘Are there prognostic factors that might help clinicians identify good versus poor outcomes for treatments including medication or psychotherapies?’”

Source: Journal Neuropsychopharmacology
Photo: Pexels

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