Stress-response genes may protect us from dying from a lack of sleep and studies of fruitflies (known to experience a state very much like human sleep) reported in this week's Nature (Vol. 417, No. 6886, 16 May 02, pp. 287-291), are starting to pin down those genes.
Paul J. Shaw and colleagues of the Neurosciences Institute, San Diego, California, exposed various mutant flies to differing amounts of light and darkness and a range of levels of sleep deprivation. The flies' fates - some died - "represent a first step in identifying the molecular mechanisms that constitute the sleep homeostat", the team concludes.
Paul J. Shaw
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