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Brain protein regulating sleep and anxiety

Researchers have found how a recently discovered brain protein plays a major role regulating sleep and stress - a discovery that can lead to a new class of drugs for treating ailments ranging from sleep and anxiety disorders to attention deficit disorder.

The team conducted tests to see how neuropeptide S (NPS) affected behavioral responses in rodents. They found that NPS increases alertness, suppresses sleep and even controls stress responses. This establishes NPS, which was first discovered in 2002, as an important modulator of sleep and alertness. This study also suggests NPS has potential as a target for new drugs to treat sleep disorders, writes Science Blog. Dr Reinscheid said: "We've found NPS to be so active with sleep and anxiety behaviour that it can be a very attractive drug target, both to enhance and to suppress its function." It might lead to treatments for a condition called narcolepsy that causes excessive daytime sleepiness attacks, or anxiety disorders, he said. "It's an important step to describe such a fundamental process because we spend a third of our time sleeping," he said, reports BBC News.

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