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Sleep

Scientists Identify Master Sleep Hormone

15 years, 7 months ago

763  0
Posted on Jan 25, 2003, 10 a.m. By Bill Freeman

Scientists have discovered that a hormone called orexin previously thought to play a role in appetite control is actually vital for normal sleep. Dr Masashi Yanahisawa of the University of Texas and colleagues found that mice bred to lack orexin were prone to narcoleptic attacks - narcolepsy is a debilitating and little understood sleep disorder which can cause sufferers to fall asleep at any time without warning.

Scientists have discovered that a hormone called orexin previously thought to play a role in appetite control is actually vital for normal sleep. Dr Masashi Yanahisawa of the University of Texas and colleagues found that mice bred to lack orexin were prone to narcoleptic attacks - narcolepsy is a debilitating and little understood sleep disorder which can cause sufferers to fall asleep at any time without warning. Without orexin it appears that we would always be asleep - we wake up when orexin-producing cells are triggered into action, thus flooding the brain with the hormone. Analysis of the brains of narcolepsy sufferers revealed that they have just one tenth of the normal amount of cells that produce the hormone. Together, the findings suggest that a drug based on orexin could treat narcolepsy.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: Reported by www.bbc.co.uk on the 16th January 2003

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