Antipsychotic Drug Improves Survival Rate In Anorexic Mice

A new study by researchers at the University of Chicago has resulted in the discovery of a medication that works to improve the rate of survival in anorexic mice, and may offer hope of a potential treatment for severe anorexia nervosa in humans.

Olanzapine used in study

In the study, the researchers tested the drug olanzapine (also known as zyprexa) on mice that were raised in conditions that cause activity based anorexia symptoms. In other words the mice were given restricted access to food and provided with an exercise wheel.

Treatment with small doses of the antipsychotic drug olanzapine significantly improved the survival rate of the mice despite variations in their environment or the age of the laboratory mice. Similar testing with the antidepressant drug fluoxetine (prozac) did not produce the same results.

No drugs currently exist for anorexia treatment

Anorexia remains a potentially deadly illness, and there are no medically approved drugs available to effectively treat the eating disorder. The use of off-label medication (medication that is usually used for one particular illness, but is also prescribed in order to treat other medical conditions) is not uncommon practice.

Some anorexic patients have been prescribed off-label psychiatric medications but little scientific research exists in order to test the effectiveness of this practice.

Researchers of this study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology hope that further research will reveal more information about how olanzapine works on the brain in order to lessen the effects of anorexia. Clinical trials are reportedly taking place to test the use of olanzapine on human patients with anorexia.

Additional scientific research would enable researchers to modify olanzapine in order to develop a medication that specifically targets anorexia. This would also help lessen the stigma some patients experience from taking a medication better known for treating psychosis. Many individuals with anorexia resist taking medication that can directly produce weight gain or cause sedation, two common side effects with olanzapine.


Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

Find a Treatment Facility Near You

Click on a state below to find eating disorder treatment options that could be right for you.

The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes and we encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician if they believe that they have an eating disorder. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

Copyright © 2008-2019
Company Information

© 2019 All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of's terms of service and privacy policy. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.