University of North Carolina (UNC) researchers are seeking more than 6,000 participants in the United States aged 18 years and over with first-hand experience of eating disorders to enroll in the world’s largest ever genetic research study of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. This ground-breaking study is named EDGI–Eating Disorders Genetic Initiative–and it aims to identify the hundreds of genes that influence a person’s risk of developing an eating disorder, with the goal of improving treatment in order to save lives. EDGI is led by F.E.A.S.T. Advisor Dr. Cynthia Bulik.
EDGI collects both genetic material via saliva samples and background information about participants via questionnaires. Their previous study focused primarily on anorexia nervosa and showed that both genes and environment contribute to an individual’s risk of developing anorexia. The study also showed that the genes that contribute to anorexia don’t only affect psychiatric illness, they also affect metabolic parameters. What this means is that it’s important to focus on both psychiatric and metabolic factors to develop better treatment for anorexia nervosa. This current EDGI study is being broadened to include people with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.
The first step to joining EDGI is to take the survey on their website www.edgi.org to determine eligibility.
EDGI will help researchers learn how genes contribute to different components of eating disorders and will enable them to develop a deeper understanding of co-morbid conditions.
This genetic research can also uncover underlying biology that puts individuals at risk for developing an eating disorder, that sustains the eating disorder, and that affects the course of the eating disorder. Potentially, the hope is that it can predict who is going to respond to different types of treatment.
This is a collaborative project that has researchers, clinicians, affected individuals, families, and advocates all working together, with the ultimate goal of developing more effective, targeted treatment. This can only happen through getting a full picture on both the genetic side and on the environmental side, which is what EDGI does.
To learn more about EDGI and to participate in the research study, please go to www.edgi.org.