Treating or Preventing Anorexia Nervosa via Precision Targeting of Neuronal Circuit

Case ID:

This invention provides methods of treating one or more eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and related clinical syndromes. A new treatment strategy has been discovered, which inhibits two different neural circuits, which rescues all three of the activity-based anorexia (ABA) animal model phenotypes of extreme increases in wheel activity, decreases in food intake, and consequently, life-threatening loss in body weight. Methods of administration for a therapeutic may include electric brain stimulation and/or pharmacological inhibitors of specific protein expression. 

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a prevalent eating disorder seen primarily in females, which significantly disrupts life and health, to the point of reaching fatality in extreme cases, with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. AN is characterized by self-starvation, fear of gaining weight, and excessive exercise, but also is often co-diagnosed with other psychiatric and emotional disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. These characteristics of AN suggest the neural circuits regulating eating behavior and the neural circuits regulating emotion interact extensively and significantly to control AN development. However, studies of single neural pathways show that the underlying neural mechanisms involved in AN, particularly how neurons in the amygdala regulate the development remain to be determined. There remains an urgent need for an effective intervention strategy in treating eating disorders.


  • Treatments for anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and related syndromes
  • Biological target for drug discovery


  • Specific biological targeting of neuronal pathways regulating eating disorders
  • Opportunity for direct device and/or pharmacological intervention
  • Attractive results from animal tests
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Jonathan Larson
Senior Licensing Manager, College of Science
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Haijiang Cai
Wesley Schnapp