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Two genetic suspects are identified in the mystery of why we need to sleep

ainst stress. When the investigators applied a stress before they deprived the flies of sleep, the flies survived.

The findings now offer scientists a "hook" to examine more advanced possibilities for sleep related behaviors and afflictions that impact humans. For example, findings may suggest treatments and behavior modifications that eliminate or minimize the impacts of:

  • Night shift work
  • Sleep disorders
  • Jet lag
  • to name a few

The next research phase of Shaw and his colleagues, Ralph Greenspan and Donald Robinson, at The Neurosciences Institute, is to pin down the mechanisms by which these genes increase and/or protect against the lethal effects of sleep deprivation. Another co-author of the paper, Giulio Tononi, is now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Psychiatry.

"The take-home message is that sleep serves a vital biological role, perhaps as important as eating," said Shaw. "Short changing sleep in order to have more time available to accomplish other tasks, is very dangerous and will ultimately fail. In other words, SLEEP!"

The Neurosciences Institute focuses its research on the fundamental principles of functions of the brain, which is the single most complex organ in the known universe. The Institute is a small, privately funded, not-for-profit organization that utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to scientific investigation.


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Contact: Paul Shaw
pshaw@nsi.edu
858-626-2117
The Neurosciences Institute
15-May-2002


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