Gene link identified in ADHD


RESEARCHERS HAVE identified a connection between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a small error in a specific gene. This represents another step in understanding the cause of the complex childhood disorder.

The Korean researchers found this altered gene in children with ADHD but were also able to prove the connection using mouse models.

ADHD affects about 5 per cent of school-aged children, according to the Korean scientists who made the discovery. They published their findings in the journal Nature Medicine.

The condition is far more common in boys, who make up 75 per cent of all cases. It “is characterised by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity”, the authors say, yet the underlying biological causes “remain largely unclear”.

Scientists are attempting to fill this gap by looking for genes that might have a role in causing ADHD and the Korean team found one, a gene called GIT1.

They discovered that if there is a single alteration in the normal genetic code for GIT1, this alteration will suppress its activity, reducing the amount of the substance it makes.

In turn, the researchers identified a link between this reduced GIT1 activity and ADHD.