Researchers find trigger for narcolepsy: study

Feb 17, 2010
Swiss scientists say they have found a trigger for narcolepsy, the health disorder that sparks sudden daytime bouts of tiredness or sleep, in a move that could open up new avenues for treatment.

Swiss scientists say they have found a trigger for narcolepsy, the health disorder that sparks sudden daytime bouts of tiredness or sleep, in a move that could open up new avenues for treatment.

The protein, called Trib2, is produced by neurones that also secrete the substance which helps keeps people awake, hypocretin, the researchers at Geneva and Lausanne Universities said in a statement.

Narcolepsy, which affects some 0.05 percent of the population on average, has already been associated with a hypocretin deficiency but the exact cause had never been pinpointed.

The researcher team concluded that was the result of an attack by the body's own immune system, after they found high levels of Trib2 amongst a sample of 120 narcoleptic patients.

The antibodies end up destroying the hypocretic neurones.

Professor Mehdi Tafti, co-director of the sleep laboratory at Vaud University Hospital in Lausanne, said that treatment with , which is commonly used for auto-immune diseases of the nervous system, had shown "extraordinary results."

The sleep disorder disappeared in most of the patients treated soon after first symptoms, the statement added.

The Swiss researchers hope the discovery could also shed more light on the way the human body handles sleep.

The results were published in the .

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NonRational
not rated yet Feb 17, 2010
I have had sleep problems for 10 years. I am always sleepy. It started after I began suffering from major depression. Sleep specialists I have seen have run every test available, and have no answers for me. This discovery gives me hope.
PinkElephant
1 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2010
Sorry about your problems, but unless you abruptly lapse into sleep when startled, or when your emotions are running high -- which is what happens in narcolepsy -- then this discovery won't help you.

Do you have trouble falling asleep, or do you have trouble staying asleep, or do you not get enough hours of sleep at night (8 hours per night is the recommended norm), or do you get enough sleep but still feel tired during the day? Depending on the scenario, causes and remedies can be quite different...
NameIsNotNick
not rated yet Feb 18, 2010
I have had sleep problems for 10 years. I am always sleepy. It started after I began suffering from major depression. Sleep specialists I have seen have run every test available, and have no answers for me. This discovery gives me hope.

One thing that can be helpful is to increase physical activity (a lot) during the day. You will sleep better at night and be more alert during the day. Good luck...
yunck05
not rated yet Mar 02, 2010
obviously pink elephant has no idea what their talking about narcoleptic do not abruptly fall into sleep. Some do however go into states of paralysis that last for upwards of a minute ,they is triggered by strong emotion(laughter,frightened) this symptom is called cataplexy. The subject is fully aware and show no neurological patterns associated with sleep. This state of paralysis is common in all humans ,but only when in the deepest stages of sleep. The severity can range, and some narcoleptic do not have it at all.
yunck05
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2010
Non-Rational unfortunately, this article would not apply to you. Even if you did have narcolepsy, you said you suffered from symptoms for 10 years. The auto-immune treatment works in patients that were given it so after their first symptoms. By later stages the damage to the neurons is irreversible.You should read research by Dr. Emmanuel Mignot of Stanford and Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa of UT on the Orexin/Hypocretin system which causes narcolepsy. I believe this research will change the way we think about sleep and will bring new treatment to sleep problems. There is already a drug in stage 3 clinical trials called Almorexant which works the orexin system to treat insomnia
PinkElephant
not rated yet Mar 02, 2010
@yunck05, thanks for the correction. I forgot about the distinction between narcolepsy/cataplexy; in my imperfect memory the two became conflated. Chalk it up to lossy compression =)
NonRational
not rated yet Mar 15, 2010
Thanks for the input yunck, it's very helpful. I'm in agreement with you that the research done by those individuals will change the way we think about sleep. I am considering investing in that company which is producing Almorexant, as I believe that insomnia/hypersomnia is related to narcolepsy and that there is a huge number of people suffering from what could be called very mild narcolepsy and insomnia.

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