Toronto General Hospital to be only Canadian site in first-ever genetic study of anorexia nervosa

Toronto, March 6 -Toronto General Hospital researchers have been selected as the only Canadian hospital in the largest genetic study of anorexia nervosa ever conducted.

The National Institute of Mental Health-funded study is a five-year, $10 million (US) project, led by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. It brings together 11 groups of researchers from North America and Europe (10 clinical centres and one to analyze data) to find regions of the human genome that contain genes influencing the risk for anorexia. To find these regions, the researchers will recruit families with two or more members, mainly siblings, who have or had anorexia nervosa, and analyze DNA from the participants.

Dr. Allan S. Kaplan, the Loretta Anne Rogers Chair in Eating Disorders, Head of Eating Disorders Program at Toronto General Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry at University of Toronto, and Dr. Blake Woodside, Director of the Inpatient Eating Disorders Program at Toronto General Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto will lead the Canadian-based component of the research. "This research project could be an important turning point in our understanding of the underlying genetic vulnerabilities in anorexia nervosa. The study will identify genes that contribute to anorexia nervosa, ultimately improving our ability to detect, prevent and treat this illness," said Dr. Kaplan.

More studies of this kind are needed because eating disorders are complex diseases with both genetic and environmental components. This research will build on recent genetic studies supported by the Price Foundation, a private, European-based foundation. Price Foundation studies have already pointed to four regions of the genome to look for genes affecting susceptibility to anorexia.

As with other diseases such as Alzheimer's and type 2 diabetes, large samples are needed to identify linkage regions and define the genes contributing liabilit

Contact: Kim Garwood
416-340-4800, ext. 6753
University of Toronto

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