FRIDAY, Oct. 21, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Children with specific gene variants respond better to the drug methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), which is widely used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new study says.
The finding could help improve treatment of ADHD, according to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center researchers.
"Physicians don't have a good way of predicting who will experience great improvement in ADHD symptoms with a particular medication, so currently we use a trial-and-error approach. Unfortunately, as a result, finding an effective treatment can take a long time," lead investigator Dr. Tanya Froehlich, a physician in the division of developmental and behavioral pediatrics, said in a medical center news release.
"With more information about genes that may be involved in ADHD medication response, we may be able to predict treatment course, tailor our approach to each child, and improve symptom response while decreasing health care costs," she said.
The researchers tested 89 children aged 7 to 11 with ADHD and found that those with specific variants of the dopamine transporter (DAT) and dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) genes showed greater improvement in hyperactivity and impulsivity after taking methylphenidate than those without the gene variants.
Specifically, children with the DAT 10-repeat variant and the DRD4 gene 4-repeat showed more response to methylphenidate than those without the variants. A repeat is a short nucleotide coding sequence in a gene that's repeated.
The study was published Oct. 21 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Further research in a larger number of patients is needed to confirm these findings and their clinical significance, the researchers said.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.