In December 2013, the well-respected medical journal, Nature, reported that narcolepsy had been confirmed to be an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, the body’s normal immune system response goes wack and starts attacking it’s own healthy cells as if they were dangerous foreign invaders.Over the years, studies have trickled in that may help prevent the development of narcolepsy. An article in Science Translational Medicine, written by Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD, director of the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, and colleagues, reported
“compelling evidence that human narcolepsy is an autoimmune disease that results when people with certain gene variants are exposed to a virus or a vaccine that induces the body to launch an attack on hypocretin-producing cells.”
Listen in on the conversation in this YouTube video where Neurology Today Editor-in-Chief Steven P. Ringel, MD; Associate Editor Robert G. Holloway Jr., MD, MPH; and Michael E. Yurcheshen, MD, associate professor of neurology and medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, discuss how this new study is adding to the theory that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disease and may affect future treatment of the disease as well:
Also, other recent research that has offered some new insight into biochemistry may have found a link between narcolepsy and the flu. Check out this SciShow host explaining the new research on narcolepsy here in this video published last July, just cue up the video to begin at 2:24:00 to see for yourself:
Now, sometimes genetic alteration is just too Sci-Fi weird to think about. But maybe the old-timey video game held the clue to ridding us of narcolepsy and we just didn’t know it!