A Challenge to find new research methods for hyperphagia, or unregulated appetite, a condition prevalent in children with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) – a genetic disorder of chromosome 15, has been announced by InnoCentive. Inc., and the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research.

Around 6,500 children are born with the genetic disorder each year. Although children with Prader-Willi suffer from a variety of physical, behavioral and neurological symptoms, hyperphagia (the feeling of constant hunger) poses the greatest risk for health. Hyperphagia causes intense food cravings that results in uncontrollable weight gain and morbid obesity, which in turn can lead to diabetes, hypertension, lung failure, and even death.

Many facets of daily life, such as learning and social interaction, are impacted as a result of the intensity of these food cravings and the inability to control them. Often, affected children eat quickly and in private, increasing their risk of choking, due to increased anxiety from the inability to regulate their food consumption, particularly around occasions that revolve around food, such as holiday celebrations. At present, there is no cure for Prader-Willi.

To date, the majority of studies have been aimed toward treating specific symptoms. For many of those affected with the condition, treating some of the most complex symptoms, such as hyperphagia and obesity, would represent the ability to live independently and a considerable improvement in quality of life.

Advancing Appetite and Satiety Research Challenge is determined to find new ways to understand the fundamental mechanisms of hyperphagia, with the goal of reducing its symptoms. As the condition is the most prevalent genetic cause of life-threatening childhood obesity, a solution to this Challenge may be of interest to physicians, investigators and pharmaceutical manufacturers, as well as those interested in childhood obesity and other associated obesity problems.

Shawn Johnson, board member of the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research, explained:

“We are so excited to launch this Challenge with InnoCentive. It allows us to reach so many more people, more multiple disciplines and with different perspectives, than traditional research methods. We hope this will increase the understanding of PWS and lead to treatments our loved ones with PWS so desperately need and deserve.”

Dwayne Spradlin, CEO and President of InnoCentive, said:

“Children with Prader-Willi syndrome face many difficult challenges. Finding a solution to the problem of hyperphagia will not only bring them closer to a lifetime of independence, it may advance the research that is being done worldwide to understand and combat childhood obesity. We hope that anyone with an interest in pediatric medicine pays close attention to this Challenge.”

InnoCentive, Inc., is the pioneer in open innovation and crowd sourcing.

Written By Grace Rate