In many areas of psychiatry (e.g., dementia and psychosis), biomarkers are already in use for diagnostic purposes and as therapeutic decision aids. This is not yet the case in the field of eating disorders even though the scientific evidence for specific genetic, endocrinological, immunological and brain imaging biomarkers is increasing. However, most of these findings have not been implemented into clinical practice; and routinely measured biomarkers are not yet used to allocate specific therapies or therapeutic pathways to patients with anorexia nervosa in an individually tailored way. The figure below illustrates potential connections of molecular, neuroimaging and clinical biomarkers with biological and psychological treatments for anorexia nervosa.
This project consists of four milestones:
– A systematic review of molecular and neuroimaging biomarkers as outcome predictors for the treatment of anorexia nervosa.
– Evaluation of routinely measured laboratory parameters (e.g., liver enzymes, C-reactive protein, and leukocyte count) as predictors of therapy outcome using the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) database. This database contains laboratory parameters about 3,500 patients with anorexia nervosa.
– An analysis of the therapeutic outcome of patients from the TRIANGLE study (a RCT with n=370 participants); clinical parameters (e.g., BMI and comorbidities) will be examined regarding their predictive value.
– Active involvement in the development of a World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) consensus statement or guideline on the use of biomarkers in anorexia nervosa.
Through these milestones, the PhD candidate will learn how to summarise and synthesise scientific evidence, how to use a big database, how to evaluate data from clinical trials and how to translate scientific results into practice guidelines.