Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Jack Bauer's Insomnia

I can just imagine the testimonials for the next generation of stimulant drugs.
"When I'm fighting terrorism for 24hrs, I am always on modafinil." Jack Bower.
The always sensationalizing newscientist has an article suggesting that taking drugs, specifically modafinil, instead of sleeping is going to and is becoming more common. Apparently modafinil is safe and has not that many side effects for those extra long covert operations, according to a Canadian militart report from 1995.
I simply have to get me some of that. from some sketchy online pharmacy.
This interested me because I have heard that you can die from lack of sleep or insomnia. In fact there is a condition called Fatal Familial Insomnia that indeed is fatal. There was a recent Science Friday interview with the author of a book about Fatal Familial Insomnia and the history behind it. It is a really good listen, the science is crappy but the history of the disease is interesting.
Amazingly, apparently mentioned by the bayblabs own Kamel in a journal club presentation, this disease is caused by a prion which doesn't start to cause affects until middle age. So those who carry this mutant protein have symptoms that accelerate rapidly resulting in loss of sleep, dementia and death.
So that means I'm going to have to go off the modafinil periodically, just to make sure I can still sleep.


Kamel said...

Admittedly, my JC focused mostly on variant Creutzfeld-Jakob and Mad Cow diseases, but other prion diseases were mentioned, including some cool pics of FFI and CJD diseased brains. (I still have the talk slides for anyone interested)
But as anybody knows, all grad students suffer from loss of sleep and dementia, so really the only novel symptom of FFI is death.