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Study Found That Narcolepsy is an Autoimmune Disease

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that affects nearly 1 out of every 2,000 people in the United States. People with narcolepsy usually have periods of extreme tiredness during the day and are prone to fall asleep at inappropriate times. Oftentimes these ‘spontaneous naps’ will occur while working, watching TV or otherwise already engaged in an activity.

Stanford University conducted a study on narcolepsy that resulted in a huge change for narcolepsy: due to the study, it is now considered an autoimmune disease. The study consisted of full genetic scans of 1,800 people with a specific gene that is usually present with narcolepsy, the human leukocyte antigen, otherwise known as the HLA gene. The scientists found that 1,000 people did not have narcolepsy, although 800 did.

After studying further they found that those with narcolepsy had a specific genetic variation. This genetic variation affects receptors on the T cells, which are essential to the immune system. Finally, they determined that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disease condition, because the body’s immune system is responsible for attacking its own cells and creating narcolepsy.

This new development may help researchers understand more about narcolepsy and autoimmune diseases in general. It may also help them develop more effective treatments. If scientists can figure out how to block the specific receptor that causes narcolepsy, they may be able to stop the disease, though this would be most helpful for a person predisposed to narcolepsy, or just starting to show signs of the disease. Most longtime patients of the disease have already developed brain damage.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

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Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Disability lawyer fee - what does an attorney cost?
Social Security Disability appeal status
The status of your social security disability or SSI case
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI tips
Maximum SSDI SSI Disability back pay
SSI disability back pay
How Far Back Will Social Security Pay Benefits?
What if the SSDI Disability application gets denied?
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions
When You File an SSI or Social Security Disability Application
After you file and apply for disability
Applying for disability, the application process
Tips for how to get approved for SSDI or SSI
Social Security Disability SSDI SSI Tips
Proving Social Security Disability for a mental condition
SSDI SSI Eligibility Requirements and Criteria
Qualifying for disability benefits (SSDI or SSI)
How does a person qualify for SSDI or SSI disability, how are they eligible?