Scientists and doctors have long understood that ADHD has a genetic component, but a new study seeks to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how the ADGRL 3 risk gene works to address potential limitations in current medications and develop better medication to specifically target the affected protein. Read on to learn more about this new research and how it could affect ADHD treatment for children.

Historical Treatment

Genetics play an important role in whether an individual will develop ADHD, and how severe the disorder will be. Since this disease’s discovery at the beginning of the 20th century there has been an astronomical rise in the diagnosis of ADHD in children, with some kids being diagnosed as young as three years old. Treatments have traditionally been systemic in nature with use of behavioral therapy as deemed necessary.

Recently ADHD treatment has turned to a more focal approach, known clinically as neuromodulation. Treatments such as neuro feedback in ADHD aim to treat individuals based on their chemical and DNA makeup, rather than applying one treatment to the masses in the hope that a large enough percentage benefit.

Study and Research of the ADHD Risk Gene

A new ADHD treatment and risk study at the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, led by Dr. Maximilian Muenke, has given scientists new hope and direction in better understanding the origin and treatment options of ADHD. Their research has helped them move leaps and bounds ahead of where they were not too long ago by finding evidence implicating a transcription factor (an error in the replication of a gene’s DNA into RNA for protein production) as the preeminent cause of the disorder.

This new research allows scientists to determine the risk and occurrence of ADHD in an individual and provides guidance for treating that individual based on his/her genetic makeup. The study, recently published in Biological Psychiatry, states that the risk gene ADGRL3 encodes (or produces, in biochemistry) the protein latrophilin 3, which is responsible for regulating communication between brain cells.

To summarize, the study found that ADHD is caused when the cells’ replication of DNA into RNA for protein production is affected or terminated; the risk gene ADGRL3 produces the protein latrophilin 3 which helps brain cells communicate for proper function, and when those proteins are affected and cannot properly instruct the brain, ADHD is the outcome.

First author of the study, Dr. Ariel Martinez, says the study was conducted to address the limitations of prevailing ADHD medications that are not one-size-fits-all, especially for children, and to develop new medications targeting the latrophilin 3 protein encoded by the ADGRL3 gene.

How the Study’s Findings Affect You

If you have ever sought the right ADHD treatment for your children, you know how difficult a process it can be. The new research conducted at the National Human Genome Research Institute demonstrates that progress is being made in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, and that new medications will make it to market within the next decade. The study’s findings show that pharmacogenomics could be the next frontier for ADHD treatment in children, meaning that personalized medicine will help treat your child at every step from diagnosis to early adulthood, and all the steps and stages in between.

If you have a child with ADHD or you believe your child may have the disorder, it’s important to discuss these new findings with your child’s pediatrician. If you have questions about your child’s health needs or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us today at Woodburn Pediatric Clinic.