The field of pharmacy is making major advancements, thanks to the increase in pharmacogenomics research. Studying individuals’ genomes can help influence how different medications work for a patient, avoid harmful adverse drug reactions, and allow scientists to develop personalized medicines for patients with a wide range of diseases and disorders.

Researchers from universities around the world conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies to explore genes that could be potential targets for pharmacologic therapy of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and its comorbidities. The comorbidities included in the study fell into 3 categories: cardiovascular, immune, and neuropsychiatric.

The study results were published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Researchers were able to identify 9 genes significantly associated with ADHD. Five of the 9 genes are encoded for drug targets that are currently being explored in clinical trials. Although these clinical trials are studying drugs for other indications, including autoimmune diseases, and Parkinson disease, results will be useful for ADHD since the drugs act on the same genes.

These researchers indicate that current pharmacological treatments for ADHD deliver effective symptomatic relief for some patients. The FDA-approved medications target a total of 23 genes. However, none of these genes are significantly associated with ADHD. Thus, there is a mismatch between current treatment and genes significantly associated with ADHD. Research is needed to determine if targeting these genes will improve symptoms or change the trajectory of the condition.

The mechanisms of action for FDA-approved drugs that treat ADHD are still unknown. Because this disorder is complex, additional research is needed to identify its underlying pathways, and potential new drug targets.

One gene found to be associated with ADHD encodes a voltage-dependent potassium channel. Dalfampridine is a nonspecific potassium channel blocker that is currently used to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and other neurologic disorders. It targets the same gene as the one associated with ADHD. This medication may be used in the future to enhance cognitive skills in patients with ADHD. 

Although treatment options have expanded in recent years, there are future possibilities as researchers conduct more pharmacogenomics research. Analyzing the druggable genome of other disorders will give insight into new treatment options. New drug targets and repurposing of drugs will be invaluable for the treatment of ADHD, and many other disorders.


Hegvik T-A, Waløen K, Pandey SK, Faraone SV, Haavik J, Zayats T. Druggable genome in attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and its co-morbid conditions. New avenues for treatment. Mol Psychiatry (2019) doi:10.1038/s41380-019-0540-z