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Narcolepsy may be autoimmune disorder

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Swiss scientists say they have identified immune molecules that target a natural protein in the body to produce narcolepsy in some individuals.

University of Lausanne researchers say their finding suggests the sleep disorder might be an autoimmune disorder.

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Individuals with narcolepsy suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness and attacks of muscle paralysis triggered by strong emotions -- a condition known as cataplexy. It has been thought narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder, but that has never been definitively proven.

The new research led by Associate Professor Mehdi Tafti has identified autoantibodies, rather than a protein from an infectious agent, that target the natural protein Trib2 in narcolepsy patients with cataplexy.

The study appears in the early online edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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