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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.
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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.
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