Wake Up Narcolepsy Awards $35,000 Grant To Dr. Scammell At Harvard For Further Research Into Narcolepsy
Co-founder Monica Gow presented a check last week to the department of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. During a visit to the Lab, Dr. Scammell shared progress being made into the mechanisms of cataplexy, a disabling symptom of narcolepsy.
In a statement detailing the discoveries made in narcoleptic mice, he shared with Monica the significance of progress being made in the field:
“With support from Wake Up Narcolepsy, Dr. Scammell’s research group has helped define which brain circuits give rise to cataplexy and sleepiness using mouse models of narcolepsy. Cataplexy is episodes of muscle weakness triggered by strong, generally positive emotions, and Dr. Scammell’s group has found that the amygdala is a key brain region for cataplexy. The amygdala is considered a brain region where “emotion meets motion”. For example, the amygdala helps produce emotional reflexes such as freezing with fear or smiling at a friend. It is now clear that in mice with narcolepsy, positive emotions (in response to tasty treats such as chocolate) are relayed by the amygdala to the brainstem, resulting in episodes of muscle weakness.
The amygdala is a complicated brain region, and Dr. Scammell’s research group will use this generous support from Wake Up Narcolepsy to define just which amygdala neurons mediate cataplexy. They anticipate that this will enable development of drugs that target just this brain circuit without causing side effects. This funding will also help generate crucial pilot data that can leveraged to obtain larger research grants from the National Institutes of Health and other organizations. Ultimately, a better understanding of these brain mechanisms will enable researchers and doctors to develop new methods to improve sleepiness, cataplexy, and other symptoms of narcolepsy.”
WUN remains deeply grateful for the opportunities to support such work through the generous contributions of our donors.