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Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2012 Feb;7(2):155-64. doi: 10.1517/17460441.2012.651454. Epub 2012 Jan 11.

Models for narcolepsy with cataplexy drug discovery.

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Departamento de Neuropatología Molecular, Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México.



Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder, characterized by a disrupted nocturnal sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and symptoms of dissociated rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. These symptoms are often disabling, confining the patients to a life-long pharmacologic symptomatic treatment. Nowadays, it is well known that narcolepsy results from alterations in the genes involved in the physiology of the orexin ligand or its receptor.


This review recapitulates on the current approaches for treating narcolepsy with cataplexy and the use of narcolepsy models in order to address different aspects of the disease.


Animal models are required for the study of human diseases when it is impractical or unethical to use humans; these models are useful for studying the underlying causes of a disease and are a common research tool for identifying potential drug targets. Current treatment for human narcolepsy is symptomatically based; interestingly, the existing approaches do not target the orexinergic circuit. The discovery of novel drug targets for treating narcolepsy remains the primary focus of study in sleep medicine research. New therapies will arise through the discovery of new animal models of narcolepsy, which will offer new insights into the understanding of its physiopathology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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