health

Frenchman, Japanese rewarded for research into narcolepsy

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By Lucie AUBOURG

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Mignot research has revolutionized a field that until now has been very poorly understood, he provided the basis for Yanagisawa to discover the importance of orexin and together they have given the first steps on treating a debilitating condition that affects hundreds of thousands or even millions of patients worldwide. They have also provided a new tool to study and understand sleep, which means other conditions that affect it may be treated in the future.

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In 1999, Mignot found a mutation in the genome of narcoleptic dogs. It was located on membrane receptors in the brain that respond to molecules outside the cell, similar to a lock and a key.

A news piece I saw as a kid in the 80s (or even 70s) always stuck with me.

It was about a family dog who (suffered from narcolepsy and) when getting excited would simply collapse like a ton of bricks and fall asleep. Throw him a ball or stick, make him run or try jogging with him and we would pretty quickly collapse and fall asleep. The family could easily wake him up again, but playing with him was completely impossible...

I was both fascinating and sad...Essentially, it was impossible for that dog to have a "normal" (dog's) life.

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