Last June, an international team of scientists discovered seven genes linked to insomnia—a first in the field of sleep disorders.
For years, insomnia was written off as purely psychological; a condition that was best treated by getting to the heart of what keeps sufferers up at night. The recent finding, however, sheds new light on the genetic side of sleep disorders, essentially paving the way for new treatments for the condition in the future.
In my book The R.E.M. Effect (Nov. 2016), the premise of a pharmaceutical company developing a drug to tackle sleep disorders by addressing genes linked to insomnia sets the stage for the fictional events that transpire throughout the planned series (The second installment, The R.E.M. Project, is set for a winter 2017 release).
The impact genetic research will have on the future of medicine and healthcare has intrigued me since I first learned about The Human Genome Project in grade school. Now, it looks like science is one step closer to addressing insomnia on a genetic level, putting sleep disorders in the same category as other disease processes which have been identified—and may potentially be treated—by using some form of gene therapy.
It’s an exciting time for science and medicine. Let’s just hope life doesn’t imitate fiction.
For more on the real-world genetic research that went into my book The R.E.M. Effect, check out the following links:
What is antisense gene therapy? — Huntington’s Outreach Project for Education at Stanford
FDA Speeds Review of Gene Therapies — The New York Times, 11/16/17