A brain protein has been discovered to play a major role in reducing stress and increasing wakefulness, a finding that could lead to treatments for sleep disorders, anxiety and depression.

Researcher Rainer Reinscheid and colleagues at the University of California, Irvine found that the protein, neuropeptide S (NPS), increases alertness, suppresses sleep and controls stress responses.

“Since our knowledge of NPS is so new, we may be at the tip of the iceberg in understanding its function,” says Reinscheid. “We’ve found NPS to be so active with sleep and anxiety behavior that it can be a very attractive drug target, both to enhance and to suppress its function.”

More here.