NY Times Magazine Story on Prader-Willi Syndrome Published; Suggests Understanding of This Unusual Genetic Disease Could Lead to Effective Treatments of Almost All Cases of Obesity

The New York Times Magazine, dated January 25, 2015, will include a poignant and informative article on Prader-Willi syndrome. The article focuses on the moving story of a young girl (Rachelle) (and also other children) with this unusual genetic disease and describes Rachelle’s treatment in the The Prader-Willi Program at the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh. This article, entitled “Food Is a Death Sentence to These Kids,” says that victims of Prader-Willi syndrome have a “heightened, permanent sensation of hunger,” and an “inability to sense fullness.” The article was written by Kim Tingle and made available online on January 21, 2015. The article also provides a history of Prader-Willi research and presents the current state of scientists’ understanding of this genetic disease that has devastating effects including, most prominently, an insatiable appetite leading to severe obesity. The article states that many scientists believe that an understanding of Prader-Wlli syndrome might, quite possibly, lead to the development of effective treatments for almost all cases of obesity. The article reports that a number of pharmaceutical companies have, in recent years, been seeking to develop drugs that will be effective in treating Prader-Willi syndrome, and, by extension, also be effective in treating general obesity problems that are epidemic in much of the world. According to the NY Times story, “Prader-¬Willi syndrome was first identified by Andrea Prader, Heinrich Willi, and Alexis Labhart, researchers at a Swiss children’s hospital, in 1956. But, for 25 years, no one knew what caused the strange suite of symptoms that, in addition to low muscle tone and insatiability, characterize it.
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