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World Sleep 2022 | Novel genes associated with hypocretin-producing neurons

Mink Schinkelshoek, MD, PhD, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands, discusses a study which identifies novel genes associated with hypocretin-producing neurons. There has been a great focus on hypocretin being the target of an autoimmune response – however, as these cells have not yet been isolated in human material, it is unknown if these hypocretin-producing neurons are also synthesizing unique peptides or proteins that may be the target of the immune response. By looking at open-access material produced by a global research effort, gene expression can be identified amongst many cells in the brain and body. This has yet to be utilized in narcolepsy for this purpose and could provide insight into which genes are co-expressed with hypocretin. Dr Schinkelshoek has been able to highlight five genes of interest – immunological testing will follow to identify if any of these could be the target of an autoimmune response. This interview took place at the World Sleep Congress 2022 in Rome, Italy.