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Research sheds light on a central mechanism behind sleep and waking.
Running separate labs, the two led teams of scientists pursuing different research programmes that converged on a new understanding of the genetic causes of narcolepsy.
They found that the protein orexin which regulates wakefulness – also called hypocretin – plays a major role in the chronic sleep disorder.
The two labs unravelled that narcolepsy is triggered in humans by the immune system attacking cells that produce orexin likely “mistaking” it for a viral particle, and their findings have led to treatments that could relieve symptoms of the disease.