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First biomarker for human sleepiness identified in fruit flies

of neurology and director of the Washington University Sleep Medicine Center, is a frequent research collaborator with Shaw.

"Despite the tremendous medical and public health consequences of sleep debt, its measurement in humans relies upon unreliable subjective rating scales and expensive, often impractical sleep laboratory testing," Duntley says. "Simple, easily accessible biomarkers for sleep debt in humans would revolutionize our ability to conduct research on the causes and consequences of sleep deprivation and provide clinicians with valuable new tools for diagnosing and assessing treatment efficacy in patients with sleep disorders."

According to Shaw, sleepiness biomarkers will also prove useful to studies of sleep in animals.

"Cetaceans like killer whales, for example, are known to go for extended periods of time without sleep, and we'd like to know more about how that works and whether they incur sleep debt," Shaw says. "Until now, the main way to study sleep deprivation's effects on the brain has been to attach electrodes, which can be a bit awkward when your target is a killer whale. Hopefully the markers we develop will make these kinds of phenomena much easier to study."


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Source:Washington University School of Medicine


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