Snorting a Brain Chemical Could Replace Sleep

topic posted Sun, January 6, 2008 - 1:32 PM by  Unsubscribed


Snorting a Brain Chemical Could Replace Sleep

A nasal spray of a key brain hormone cures sleepiness in sleep-deprived monkeys. With no apparent side effects, the hormone might be a promising sleep-replacement drug.

In what sounds like a dream for millions of tired coffee drinkers, Darpa-funded scientists might have found a drug that will eliminate sleepiness.

A nasal spray containing a naturally occurring brain hormone called orexin A reversed the effects of sleep deprivation in monkeys, allowing them to perform like well-rested monkeys on cognitive tests. The discovery's first application will probably be in treatment of the severe sleep disorder narcolepsy.

The treatment is "a totally new route for increasing arousal, and the new study shows it to be relatively benign," said Jerome Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and a co-author of the paper. "It reduces sleepiness without causing edginess."

Orexin A is a promising candidate to become a "sleep replacement" drug. For decades, stimulants have been used to combat sleepiness, but they can be addictive and often have side effects, including raising blood pressure or causing mood swings. The military, for example, administers amphetamines to pilots flying long distances, and has funded research into new drugs like the stimulant modafinil (.pdf) and orexin A in an effort to help troops stay awake with the fewest side effects.

The monkeys were deprived of sleep for 30 to 36 hours and then given either orexin A or a saline placebo before taking standard cognitive tests. The monkeys given orexin A in a nasal spray scored about the same as alert monkeys, while the saline-control group was severely impaired.

The study, published in the Dec. 26 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience, found orexin A not only restored monkeys' cognitive abilities but made their brains look "awake" in PET scans.

Siegel said that orexin A is unique in that it only had an impact on sleepy monkeys, not alert ones, and that it is "specific in reversing the effects of sleepiness" without other impacts on the brain.

Such a product could be widely desired by the more than 70 percent of Americans who the National Sleep Foundation estimates get less than the generally recommended eight hours of sleep per night (.pdf).

The research follows the discovery by Siegel that the absence of orexin A appears to cause narcolepsy. That finding pointed to a major role for the peptide's absence in causing sleepiness. It stood to reason that if the deficit of orexin A makes people sleepy, adding it back into the brain would reduce the effects, said Siegel.

"What we've been doing so far is increasing arousal without dealing with the underlying problem," he said. "If the underlying deficit is a loss of orexin, and it clearly is, then the best treatment would be orexin."

Siegel said that Americans already recognize that sleepiness is a problem and have long treated it with a variety of stimulants.

"We have to realize that we are already living in a society where we are already self-medicating with caffeine," he said.

He also said that modafinil, which is marketed as Provigil by Cephalon and Alertec in Canada, has become widely used by healthy individuals for managing sleepiness.
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  • Re: Snorting a Brain Chemical Could Replace Sleep

    Sun, January 6, 2008 - 1:34 PM
    big pharma is going to love this one. . .i bet it decreases life span if used heavily. . .
    • Re: Snorting a Brain Chemical Could Replace Sleep

      Sun, January 6, 2008 - 10:27 PM
      >>>>>>>>>>big pharma is going to love this one. . .i bet it decreases life span if used heavily. . .

      I think this kind of thing would increase chances of heart attack. I have a hunch that this has been out for a while. I remembered that the air force used this on thier pilots.
      • Re: Snorting a Brain Chemical Could Replace Sleep

        Sun, January 6, 2008 - 10:54 PM
        Yeah, it's called speed.
        • Unsu...


          Mon, January 7, 2008 - 12:15 AM

          yep, it's pretty much a 'new generation speed' (with completely different mechanism of action than methamphetamines, but pretty much the same effect) - those guys in DARPA don't f*ck around. scary stuff - see this link for example: Risky Business: Why DARPA Does What Medical Industry Won’t:

          now, this is INTENSE:
          New Drugs Enhance Performance, Eliminate Need to Sleep
          Posted by Steven F. Palter, MD under Military, Future, Augmented Abilities, FDA, drugs, pharmaceuticals, DARPA

          (here's some excerpts)

          this stuff makes crank look like candy

          The original version of these substances was the “time-shifting” drug, Modafinil that enables you to stay awake for 40+ hours with close to full mental capacity and with few side effects. (produced by Cephalon as PROVIGIL®, MODIODAL® in France and VIGIL® in Germany, for excessive sleepiness associated with narcolepsy and for “shift work sleep disorder” - hear that you medical interns?- web site advertises free 7 day trial supply).

          This is precisely the substance the the former chief medical director of the olympic committee spoke to me of. He asked - once this stuff hits the street don’t you think a majority of college students would use it to perform better on exams? The military sure thinks its a god idea for soldiers and pilots.

          The drug is a eugeroic and offers improved memory, mood enhancement, improved alertness and cognitive powers without any of the nasty side effects and mass murder of speed and crank.

          What’s a Eugeroic you ask? - Literally the term means “Good Arousal” . They are a class of novel stimulants that produce long-lasting mental arousal. They are unique in producing hypervigilence and alertness without peripheral effects or addidition of usual stimulants. Strangely, they have minimal effect on sleep structure, and do not cause rebound hypersomnolence (crashing).

          I hear there is a new super eugeroic called armodafinil coming down the pike with even more potent effects.

          I predict these drugs have an abuse potential greater than any drug since alcohol.

          (end quote)

          "Eugeroics", huh?... sounds like fun, doesn't it...
          • Re: Eugeroics?...

            Mon, January 7, 2008 - 1:42 AM
            ARPA/DARPA = also responsible for the internet

            hardest drug evar
            and the pushers in this case are those who charge you to access it
            they even advertise on tv

            i'd like to see a free internet.... stealing wifi is a step in that direction.... in some cities you can even find free wifi by looking for new-fangled "hobo signs"

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