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British Politician Gives Blood to Fuel Anorexia Research!

Christina Colon, Communications Intern

British Member of Parliament, Brooks Newmark, was just 17 when he endured anorexia nervosa. He surely knows that overcoming the disease takes not only mass amounts of support, but research to help understand the dynamics of such a crippling eating disorder. Fortunately, the newly appointed minister of the Civil Society has recently donated his blood to a study that seeks to collect 25,000 samples from those who have suffered, by 2016.

This effort is based on a global operation, fueled by the AN25K challenge. According to Cynthia Bulik, PhD, FAED, Professor of Eating Disorders at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the idea came to life at the 2012 meeting of the Eating Disorders Research Society, in Porto, Portugal. Scientists have long strived to illustrate the association between genetics and anorexia in their related studies. In collecting blood from people around the world that have a history with AN,  their DNA may prove to be highly beneficial when it comes to research endeavors. 

The research project in the US is conducted through Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative (ANGI). Despite being based in the U.S., ANGI sites expand to Sweden, Australia, and Denmark. Newmark’s participation is also due in part to Europe’s joining in on the collaboration. The UK’s Charlotte’s Helix has set a goal of 1,000, to add to the collection. So far, ANGI has gathered more than 2,500 samples, and these numbers are sure to increase, should both parties continue to reap in participants.

Recruiting those that have experience AN firsthand are donating more than just their chromosomes. The worldwide alliance is sure to Increasing the number of participants, which in turn increases the number of findings. Hopefully, this will lead to a wider perspective on whether or not people are subject to anorexia based on their heredity.

With political figures like Newmark taking fostering movement in the right direction, why not join in on the movement as well? Cooperation is clearly vital to these studies. With your help (and blood!) we can build a greater understanding of how genes affect anorexia, and take the necessary steps to effectively treat the disorder. If interested, visit http://www.med.unc.edu/psych/eatingdisorders/our-research/angi