With no medications approved for treatment of anorexia nervosa, a potentially fatal eating disorder, the finding that the antipsychotic olanzapine improved survival in a mouse model of anorexia offers some encouraging news in the search for treatments for the disorder. Researchers at the University of Chicago reported in Neuropsychopharmacology that mice treated with small doses of olanzapine were more likely to maintain their weight when given an exercise wheel and restricted food access, conditions that produce activity-based anorexia (ABA) in animals. Stephanie Klenotich, a graduate student in neurobiology and the paper's first author, said, "We found over and over again that olanzpine was effective in harsher conditions, less-harsh conditions, adolescents, adults—it consistently worked."
Daniel Le Grange, Ph.D.,a coauthor of the paper and director of the University of Chicago's Eating Disorders Clinic, pointed out that one challenge in this area is finding a medication that anorexia patients will agree to take regularly, since they often reject drugs that cause weight gain or have strong sedative effects.
To read an in-depth review of assessment and treatment of eating disorders, see American Psychiatric Publishing's Clinical Manual of Eating Disorders. And read more about eating disorder treatment in Psychiatric News.