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Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2012 Dec;159B(8):885-95. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.32111. Epub 2012 Oct 22.

Molecular genetics research in ADHD: ethical considerations concerning patients' benefit and resource allocation.

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Institute for Ethics and History in Medicine, Center for Medicine, Society and Prevention, University of Tuebingen, Gartenstrasse, Tuebingen, Germany.


Immense resource allocations have led to great data output in genetic research. Concerning ADHD resources spent on genetic research are less than those spent on clinical research. But there are successful efforts made to increase support for molecular genetics research in ADHD. Concerning genetics no evidence based conclusive results have significant impact on prevention, diagnosis or treatment yet. With regard to ethical aspects like the patients' benefit and limited resources the question arises if it is indicated to think about a new balance of resource allocation between molecular genetics and non-genetics research in ADHD. An ethical reflection was performed focusing on recent genetic studies and reviews based on a selective literature search. There are plausible reasons why genetic research results in ADHD are somehow disappointing for clinical practice so far. Researchers try to overcome these gaps systematically, without knowing what the potential future benefits for the patients might be. Non-genetic diagnostic/therapeutic research may lead to clinically relevant findings within a shorter period of time. On the other hand, non-genetic research in ADHD may be nurtured by genetic approaches. But, with the latter there exist significant risks of harm like stigmatization and concerns regarding data protection. Isolated speeding up resources of genetic research in ADHD seems questionable from an ethical point of view. There is a need to find a new balance of resource allocation between genetic and non-genetic research in ADHD, probably by integrating genetics more systematically into clinical research. A transdisciplinary debate is recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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