Tuesday, October 23, 2007


This sounds like the ultimate insult, labeling someone a cretin but not even a very good example of one. Not an epithet at all, this one, but rather a little protein that explains in part why some of us pop out of bed even before the alarm goes off while others snooze on. Persons with narcolepsy are short on hypocretin secreting neurons (a condition that could be called hypohypocretinism).

California neuroscientists* twiddled around with these hypocretinergic neurons in a group of volunteered mice. Dialing up the hypocretin meant the mice rose before the lab alarm clock sounded, knocking it out left those lazy mice abed through breakfast.

Neuroscientists enthused that this research may have a future impact on the life of insomniacs. Those night owls who have hyperhypocretinism may someday take a medication that can tone down their jazzed up hypocretinergic neurons, allowing them to get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
*Adamantidis, A et al. Nature. 2007 Oct 17; [Epub ahead of print]

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