From left: Monica Gow, WUN Co-Founder; Dr. Thomas Scammell, BIDMC & Harvard Medical School; Kevin Cosgrove, WUN Co-Founder

Date: October 28, 2011

Wake Up Narcolepsy makes a $20,000 contribution to Dr. Thomas Scammell‘s lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Scammell is an Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and preeminent narcolepsy researcher.

With the support of WUN, Dr. Scammell’s lab is examining how positive emotions trigger cataplexy and if gene therapy can improve the sleepiness of narcoleptic mice.

Most individuals with cataplexy have found that laughing or telling a joke can trigger their cataplexy, and Dr. Scammell’s group is now finding that the amygdala and prefrontal cortex (brain regions that regulate emotions) are essential for triggering cataplexy in mice.

In related work, the Scammell Lab is finding that the sleepiness of mice lacking the orexin/hypocretin neurons (much like in people with narcolepsy) is much improved by coaxing other neurons to make orexin/hypocretin. Though this research is still years away from use in people, these discoveries provide hope for more effective treatments.

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