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GWAS Identifies Loci Linked to Binge Eating Disorder

In Nature Genetics, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai teased out three loci linked to binge eating disorder, a common psychiatric disorder. Studying binge eating disorder can challenging because it is often comorbid with obesity, a common and highly polygenic trait, and so to uncover the genetics of binge eating disorder specifically, the researchers used data of clinically diagnosed BED cases from the US Million Veteran Program. They developed and validated a machine-learning algorithm based on confirmed  BED cases to estimate each individual's likelihood of having BED. With the help of the ML algorithm and using samples from 77,574 people of African ancestry and 285,138 of European ancestry from the MVP cohort, they performed a genome-wide association study for binge eating disorder while controlling for body mass index to find three loci near the HFEMCHR2, and LRP11 genes significantly associated with the condition, independent of BMI. After bundling those loci into a polygenic risk score by leveraging our GWAS summary statistics, they validated their approach by performing an association analysis of that score in three independent cohorts. Their genetic correlation analysis further showed that their polygenic risk score for binge-eating disorder overlaps considerably with other neuropsychiatric phenotypes, including depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.