Central Coast residents with first-hand experience of eating disorders are invited 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.
EDGI will further the significant advances made in a recent, international collaborative study – Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative (ANGI) – in order to revolutionise future research into the causes, treatment and prevention of eating disorders.
Australian Lead Investigator, geneticist and Head of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Group, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Professor Nick Martin, is seeking more than 3,500 Australians to volunteer for EDGI.
“Decades of family and twin studies have confirmed that eating disorders run in families due to genetic factors,” Martin said.
“Breakthroughs made possible with genome-wide association studies, such as EDGI, use postage stamp-sized ‘genetic chips’ to allow analysis of up to one million genetic markers.
“These markers investigate single letter variations in the DNA across all 23 chromosomes.
“Each of these variants can then be tested statistically for association with eating disorders, by comparing the genomes of large numbers of individuals with eating disorders to large numbers of individuals without the diseases.
“Analysing the DNA from saliva samples will allow us to pinpoint specific genes associated with eating disorders, which will help us to determine why some people experience eating disorders, and why some people living with eating disorders respond to certain treatments, while others do not.”
He said the data would also help in understanding the common conditions co-occurring with eating disorders, including obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders and personality disorders.
Volunteers need to be aged 13 years or over and have currently, or at any point in their lives, experienced anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder.
Children aged 13 to 17 years wishing to volunteer for the study must be supervised by a guardian.
Media release, Sep 22
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute