NZ researchers seeking 3,500+ volunteers for world’s largest eating disorders genetics investigation

University of Otago

NZ researchers seeking 3,500+ volunteers for

world’s largest eating disorders genetics investigation

Study to pinpoint genes influencing risk of

developing eating disorders

New Zealand researchers are seeking volunteers with first-hand experience of an eating disorder to enrol in the local arm of the world’s largest ever genetic investigation into the complex, devastating illnesses.

The ground-breaking Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) aims to identify hundreds of genes that influence a person’s risk of developing anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder, to improve treatment, and ultimately, save lives.

According to a co-authored EDGI Investigator article published today in the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioner’s (RNZCGP), GP Pulse, NZ volunteers stand to make an invaluable contribution to improving the lives of those living with eating disorders.

“Cracking the genetic code of eating disorders will open the floodgates to much-needed research and the development of new, and more effective, personalised treatments for these devastating illnesses,” said article co-author, visiting EDGI Principal Investigator, Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Professor Cynthia Bulik, USA.

“Our preliminary research has shown that genetically, anorexia nervosa has both psychiatric and metabolic origins, which explains why people living with the disorder struggle to gain weight, despite their best efforts,” said Prof Bulik.

“EDGI NZ offers us a unique opportunity to further investigate the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors that contribute to eating disorders, in order to improve treatments, and save lives.”

Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses that for some, can lead to severe and permanent physical complications, and even death.1While various studies have explored one’s genetic predisposition to developing an eating disorder, only a handful of the responsible genes have been identified to date, leaving many more to be found.

Psychologist, Senior Lecturer, University of Otago, and EDGI NZ Co-lead Investigator, Dr Jennifer Jordan, Christchurch is seeking more than 3,500 New Zealanders to participate in the important genetics study.

“We are looking for any New Zealander, aged 16 and over, with first-hand experience of an eating disorder, to volunteer for this important genetics study.”

Volunteers need to be over 16 years of age and have currently, or at any point in their lives experienced anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder.

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