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Published: 2020-05-14 08:14 | Updated: 2020-05-14 08:25

Two researchers at BioNut awarded the Ax:son Johnson grant

Christine Delisle Nyström and Peter Swoboda were selected for this year's Ax:son Johnson foundation grant. Christine for her research about obesity prevention in children and Peter for his new way to study eating disorders, especially 'Binge Eating'.

Christine Delisle Nyström received 115 000 sek to adapt the INFANT project to a Swedish context. INFANT is a successful obesity prevention intervention, targeting first-time parents in Australia with infants aged four months, with the overall aim to promote healthy lifestyle behaviours from the beginning of life. The aim of this project is to adapt the INFANT program for a Swedish context through semi-structured interviews with first time Swedish parents and primary child health care nurses.

Peter Swoboda received 90 000 sek for modelling human 'Binge Eating' in the worm C. elegans.

Stress caused by negative input from the environment, together with dieting, is a common trigger of human eating disorders, like binge eating (BE), bulimia or anorexia. BE is defined as recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat in similar situations, accompanied by experiencing lack of control. Whereby, a number of the underlying risk factors depend on (unknown) biological or genetic disposition.

Here the worm C. elegans and its feeding behaviours are used under normal and stressful conditions to gain insight into the (neuro-) genetic mechanisms controlling food craving and BE behaviors. Neuronal and hormonal genetics are evolutionary well conserved between humans and worms. This includes behavioural output like eating or feeding.

The study employs “stressful” feeding assays (forced dieting/starvation in combination with mild “uncomfortable” heat) and neurotransmitter systems known to modulate eating behaviours. Thereby, the researchers can, in C. elegans worms, faithfully mimic the roles that these systems play in compulsive and addictive feeding behaviours like human BE.