August 4, 2014

The research for a genetic cause behind anorexia nervosa has been underway for several years. But the challenge has been in engaging a patient population that has been difficult to reach for many reasons. Yet mobile health startup Recovery Record has succeeded in getting people with the condition to use an interactive platform that encourages patients to keep a diary and receive feedback from their therapists.

Research scientist Cynthia Bulik from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Queensland Institute of Medical Research is joining forces with the company to recruit participants for a clinical study to identify genes connected to the disease. The Anorexia Nervosa Genetic Initiative,supported by the Boston-based Klarman Family Foundation, has set a goal of collecting 25,000 DNA samples from patients with the condition by 2016. The data would go to biobanks at University of North Carolina, Queensland Institute of Medical Research and Charlotte’s Helix Project. With a user base of 200,000, Recovery Record will be a driving force behind recruitment, according to co-founder Jenna Tregarthen.

In a phone interview with MedCity News, Recover Record CEO and co-founder Jenna Tregarthen said the advantage of using the company’s mobile platform to recruit patients is that they can generate a continuous feed of potential participants in the rolling study. Additionally they would be tapping a group of patients who have already demonstrated they’re engaged.

“Down the track, we’re talking about giving users opportunities to supplement their genotype data with phenotype data. We have built the biggest repository of eating disorder patients that exists.”

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