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September 11, 1996

Narcolepsy Researchers Barking Up the Right Tree

Author Affiliations

JAMA contributor

JAMA. 1996;276(10):765-766. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540100009003

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THE PROSPECT of a tasty morsel so excited Kahlua that she collapsed with cataplexy, a sudden episode of muscle weakness. Kahlua is 1 of 25 Doberman pinschers with a naturally occurring form of narcolepsy in a dog colony at Stanford (Calif) University School of Medicine, where researchers are gaining purchase on the narcolepsy gene.

New findings about the heritability of narcolepsy and advances in its treatment were reported at the joint meeting of the American Sleep Disorders Association and Sleep Research Society in Washington, DC, in June.

About 1 in 2000 persons has narcolepsy, a neurologic condition characterized by chronic excessive daytime sleepiness and pathologic manifestations of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Cataplexy is a pathological equivalent of REM sleep atonia. It is triggered by emotions in dogs as well as in humans, in whom laughter, elation, surprise, or anger may cause the knees to give way, sometimes causing a