People like me who experience the illness, Anorexia Nervosa, want to make our life count; we want to do something so that others do not suffer like us.
And we can do something, something really special. We can roll up our sleeves for science. Already, in Australia, 600 of us have participated in ANGI, the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative.
This is a great achievement – but we need 600 more.
Research team leader Prof. Nick Martin, at the Queensland Institute of Medical
Research (QIMR) in Brisbane, needs our help to reach our national target of 1200 samples.
I asked Prof. Martin to help us understand why our blood is important:
Why does the research team want our blood?
Prof. Martin: We need the blood so we can extract DNA to genotype all the genes and try and find which ones predispose to anorexia.
Who can give the blood? Like, do you need to be of a certain age, sex, do you need to be suffering from Anorexia Nervosa today or do you need to be recovered from Anorexia Nervosa?
Prof. Martin: You can be of any age, either sex, and have anorexia now, or in the past.
What happens after we provide a blood sample, like, where does it go?
Prof. Martin: The blood goes to QIMR in Brisbane for initial processing and then to Rutgers University in New Jersey where it will be genotyped.
When can we expect some sort of outcome on this ANGI research project?
Prof. Martin: This is a four-year project and we hope to have found the principal genes by the end of it. To turn that knowledge into new cures will take years longer.
Typically in medical research it is around 15 years between a basic discovery and a new drug on the market. This is largely because of the rigorous FDA (USA Food and Drug Administration) regulations for new drug approval. But new drugs aren’t the only possible outcome—results will help us understand the biology of the illness and may also help us with identifying individuals at greatest risk.
Why this research is important?
Prof. Martin: The best way to new cures is to understand the basic biology and finding the genes in this way is a major step to achieving this.
How many samples does Australia need to get, the world need to get?
Prof. Martin: The initial target for ANGI Australia is 1200 cases – we have 600 so far. But funding is available to go beyond this and we are applying to collect another 1000 on top of this. Internationally, ANGI is targeting 8000 cases and the global effort, AN25K, wants to collect at least 25,000!
Make your experience with Anorexia Nervosa count.