Breakthrough research on hypersomnia published
Narcolepsy Network Medical Advisory Board member David Rye, MD, PhD, and a team of researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have discovered that dozens of adults with primary hypersomnia have a substance in their cerebrospinal fluid that acts like a sleeping pill.
The results were published online by the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The paper describes how samples of patients’ cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) contain a substance that enhances the effects of the brain chemical GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid.) GABA is one of the main inhibitory chemicals of the nervous system – alcohol, barbituates and benzodiazepines all enhance the effects of GABA. In the laboratory, the size of the effect on GABA receptor function is more than twice as large in the hyper-sleepy patients, on average, than in control samples.
Identifying the mysterious “somnogen,” which appears to be produced by the body, could give scientists greater insight into how our brains regulate states of consciousness such as alertness and sleep, and could lead to new treatments for primary hypersomnia.
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Date Created: November 25th, 2012
Last Updated: November 25th, 2012