Wake-Up Drug Could Help the Sleep-Deprived

TUESDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) — Shiftworkers, hospital staff clocking long hours, and other sleep-challenged Americans may someday have a means of restoring full alertness even if sleep-deprived.

Researchers at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., say an experimental drug called CX717 temporarily improved performance and reversed the effects of sleep deprivation in the brains of monkeys.

The drug works on a type of brain receptor involved in cell-to-cell communication, boosting the action of the neurotransmitter glutamate.

Reporting late Monday in the online edition of the Public Library of Science-Biology, the team first taught alert, well-rested monkeys to pick out specific images from a range of others flashed on a computer screen. Use of CX717 improved test scores of these fully alert monkeys to near-perfect, the researchers report.

They then had the same monkeys take the test again after being deprived of sleep for 30 to 36 hours — the equivalent of humans going three days without rest.

Like humans, the primates’ performance was noticeably sluggish due to lack of sleep. But use of CX717 brought that performance back to normal levels, the North Carolina team report.

“In addition to improving performance under normal conditions, the drug restored performance that was impaired after sleep loss,” senior researcher Samuel Deadwyler said in a prepared statement.”

I could use some of this stuff today.

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