Narcolepsy Research

Narcolepsy is a serious neurological sleep disorder affecting 1 in 2,000 people – including 200,000 Americans and 3 million people worldwide. Wake Up Narcolepsy is dedicated to accelerating the pace of basic research to better understand the causes of the disease, and develop improved treatment and a cure.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) supports Narcolepsy research with between $4-4.5 million per year. NIH contributions are greatly appreciated, but more research is always needed.

WUN Narcolepsy Research Program

Since 2009, Wake Up Narcolepsy has raised more than $688,000 to support research for Narcolepsy treatment and to find a cure. Doctors engaged in Narcolepsy research say the unrestricted grant funding from Wake Up Narcolepsy supports innovative experiments that may otherwise go unsupported.

Research has identified the genetic cause of the autoimmune disorder that affects the ability of the brain to regulate its sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, new findings suggest that people with Narcolepsy have additional histamine neurons in the brain.

WUN advances Narcolepsy research by directly funding the work of the world’s most respected scientific investigators.

Narcolepsy research delivers several key public benefits

Understanding Sleep and Wakefulness – Why do we sleep? Why do we dream? Historically, our understanding of the sleep cycle, wakefulness, and REM/dream sleep and wakefulness have been greatly advanced by Narcolepsy research.

Understanding Autoimmune Disorders – Narcolepsy is the first known neuronal-specific autoimmune disorder and may serve as a model for other diseases, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism.

Understanding Insomnia, Obesity and Addiction- Research into the role of hypocretin, or orexin, may provide a “cure” for Narcolepsy. In addition, recent studies are exploring whether hypocretin could play a role in insomnia, obesity, and addiction.

WUN Narcolepsy Research Highlights

Dr. Emmanuel Mignot, Director of the Center for Sleep Sciences and the Center for Narcolepsy at Stanford University’s School of Medicine

Mignot is internationally recognized for discovering the gene that causes Narcolepsy. Mignot’s research indicates that Narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the brain attacks its hypocretin cells which control the sleep-wake cycle. Wake up Narcolepsy is supporting Dr. Mignot’s research in the genetic and environmental co-factors that contribute to the development of Narcolepsy.

Thomas Scammell, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Medical Director, The Sleep Center, Boston Children’s Hospital

Identifying the neural mechanisms in the brain which control sleep and wakefulness and to determine how the loss of hypocretin/orexin peptides produces rapid transformations from wakefulness to sleep. How positive emotions, such as laughter and surprise trigger cataplexy, the sudden loss of muscle control among some persons with Narcolepsy. Why people with Narcolepsy have more histamine neurons in their brains. Potential gene therapy for mice with Narcolepsy that triggers other neurons to produce more hypocretin in the brain

Dr. Indra Narang, Director of Sleep Medicine at Sick Kids Hospital, Toronto, and Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at the University of Toronto

Wake Up Narcolepsy supports her studies of Narcolepsy in children.

Donate to WUN Research

Wake Up Narcolepsy relies on your donations and contributions in order to support the groundbreaking research done by our prestigious partners.

Click here to donate for Narcolepsy research

Apply for Research Grants

Wake Up Narcolepsy welcomes Narcolepsy research grant applications from qualified scientific investigators.

WUN Grant Application and Guidelines

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