Researchers identify the first risk genes for ADHD

A major international collaboration headed by researchers from the Danish iPSYCH project, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium has for the first time identified genetic variants which increase the risk of ADHD. The new findings provide a completely new insight into the biology behind ADHD.



Our genes are very important for the development of mental disorders -- including ADHD, where genetic factors capture up to 75% of the risk. Until now, the search for these genes had yet to deliver clear results. Researchers from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium have compared genetic variation across the entire genome for over 20,000 people with ADHD and 35,000 who do not suffer from it, finding twelve locations where people with a particular genetic variant have an increased risk of ADHD compared to those who do not have the variant.


These genetic discoveries provide new insights into the biology behind developing ADHD. For example, some of the genes have significance for how brain cells communicate with each other, while others are important for cognitive functions such as language and learning.


In the study, the researchers have also compared the new results with those from a genetic study of continuous measures of ADHD behaviours in the general population. The researchers discovered that the same genetic variants that give rise to an ADHD diagnosis also affect inattention and impulsivity in the general population.


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