An Icelandic doctor working in the US is currently embarking on developing a new drug for ADHD, based in part on groundbreaking research his team did on the genetic aspects of the disorder.
Dr. Hákon Hákonarson made international news in the medical community earlier this month for his work in studying the link between genetics and ADHD. Researchers under his management at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia compared the genetic codes of 1,000 kids with ADHD from the hospital database with 4,100 others of the same age who did not have ADHD, doing whole-gene analysis of all of them. What they found was that four genes – all of them glutamate receptor (GMR) genes – had a greater number of copy number variations in ADHD children than they did in non-ADHD children. Said Hákon at the time:
Members of the GMR gene family, along with genes they interact with, affect nerve transmission, the formation of neurons, and interconnections in the brain, so the fact that children with ADHD are more likely to have alterations in these genes reinforces previous evidence that the GMR pathway is important in ADHD. Our findings get to the cause of the ADHD symptoms in a subset of children with the disease.
Vísir now reports that his team is researching a drug to more effectively work with these receptors. Based on years-old research done in Japan for the treatment of Alzheimers’ disease which yielded no results, his team found that the drug’s results did show promise in being able to treat the GMR pathway. The drug is currently undergoing clinical trials in the US and Europe, but there is as yet no date for when it will be on the market.
Here’s a short video of Hákon discussing his team’s research in finding a genetic overlap between children with ADHD and autism: