Faulty genes linked to ADHD
The tiny defective gene has been linked to a multi-functional protein in the brain that helps to balance a child’s levels of inhibition and excitability.
Researchers found that children with the gene, called GIT1, are 2.7 times more likely to develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Although the exact numbers of children who have ADHD are unknown, it’s thought to affect approximately one child in 20.
Scientists are hoping that as they improve their understanding of how genes like GIT1 influence ADHD, they will be able to develop new drugs or therapies to control the disorder.
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Ritalin is currently the most popular drug used to treat the condition, and it is thought between 50,000 and 100,000 children are being prescribed the pill.
Symptoms of ADHD include impulsiveness, hyperactivity and a lack of concentration. It is hoped the new findings will help to remove the stigma that is attached to the condition, something which is often mistaken for bad behaviour caused by poor parenting
The new research found that just a single letter change in the genetic code was responsible for the heightened risk of children developing the behavioural condition.
Scientists in South Korea studied the GIT1 gene in 388 children, and found a strong link between those with the faulty gene and those with ADHD.
Although previous studies into ADHD have found that the condition lies in families and variants in DNA are linked to the disorder, the underlying cause remains a mystery.
There are, therefore, a number of varying theories as to its causes. Some doctors and scientists believe it can be triggered by food additives, while others think that it is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.
There is also another theory that puts ADHD down to the brains inability to filter different types of stimulation coming through the various senses.
This latest research into the condition was led by Dr Eunjin Kim, from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and a paper in his findings has been published online in the Nature Medicine journal.
Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech
British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business.
The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing.
Birdie was born with a mission to "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront. The company was founded by Max Parmentier, after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option.
In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater.
Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients.
The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.
In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.
Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.
These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards.
“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said.
"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.”