Wake Up Narcolepsy Continues Funding for Advanced Research on Narcolepsy

Jul 30, 2012, 08:00 ET from Wake Up Narcolepsy

Awards to Researchers at Harvard, Stanford and Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children

WORCESTER, Mass., July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Wake Up Narcolepsy, Inc. (WUN), a nonprofit dedicated to broadening awareness of narcolepsy and accelerating the pace of medical discovery in the disorder, recently made research grants totaling $40,000 to three world-leading scientific investigators. The funds were raised by a team of five WUN volunteers who ran the 2012 Boston Marathon.

The awardees are: 

  • Dr. Emmanuel Mignot, director of the Center for Sleep Sciences and the Center for Narcolepsy at Stanford University's School of Medicine, $20,000. Dr. Mignot is internationally recognized as having discovered the cause of narcolepsy. The WUN grant will underwrite his continuing work on the genetic and environmental co-factors contributing to the development of narcolepsy.
  • Dr. Thomas Scammell, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, $15,000. Dr. Scammell's laboratory is examining how positive emotions trigger cataplexy and if gene therapy can improve the sleepiness of narcoleptic mice. Though this research is still years away from application for people, these discoveries provide hope for more effective treatments.
  • Dr. Indra Narang, Director of Sleep Medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, and Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at the University of Toronto, $5,000. The WUN grant will support her studies of narcolepsy in children.  

Drs. Mignot and Scammell are repeat recipients of WUN support.

Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder that affects some 200,000 Americans and 3 million people worldwide. The condition is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and often first appears in young people. Many sufferers also experience episodes of cataplexy, brief but debilitating periods of muscle weakness or complete physical collapse usually brought on by emotions such as laughter or surprise.   

Narcolepsy can impair virtually every facet of a person's life, from family and social interactions, to self-esteem and career choice. Though treatment is available for most sufferers, up to 10 years can pass before a proper diagnosis is made, robbing the sufferer – and the family – of an acceptable quality of life.

Shockingly, however, many physicians, teachers, parents and others who could help are not familiar with it symptoms. So delayed or inaccurate diagnosis can lead to years of unnecessary suffering. Raising public awareness and building support for finding a cure will help millions worldwide.

Monica Gow, WUN Executive Director and a member of the WUN Boston Marathon running team, said of the recent grants, "As the mother of a son with narcolepsy, I'm all too familiar with the life-altering effects of the condition, for both our son and our family. WUN works to raise awareness of narcolepsy, so proper diagnosis can take place faster, and to support research to find a cure. We are honored to continue our association with these and other world-class narcolepsy researchers.

To learn more about these research programs and Wake Up Narcolepsy, visit www.wakeupnarcolepsy.org.

SOURCE Wake Up Narcolepsy