A new drug for narcolepsy coming soon

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Written by Estelle B. and published on 29/05/2019

Narcolepsy is a rare disease of sleepiness, for which current treatments are not very effective. A new drug, solriamfetol, may soon be available.

Man prone to narcolepsy in the workplace

What is narcolepsy?

While a significant proportion of the adult population complains of not getting enough sleep, there is a rare condition characterised by excessive sleepiness, the narcolepsya. This chronic neurological disease, the most severe drowsiness disease in humans, combines two main symptoms:

  • Excessive sleepiness during the day;
  • Difficulty staying awake.

Such symptoms have important consequences for the quality of life of patients. Narcolepsy results from damage to the neurons that synthesise a particular protein, hypocretin.

At present, treatments for narcolepsy are rare, with variable efficacy depending on the patient and sometimes causing significant side effects. Moreover, they do not treat the cause of the disease - scientists are currently unable to produce a synthetic hypocretin - but only the symptoms. The available drugs stimulate alertness by acting on a neurotransmitter, dopamine.

A new drug being tested in clinical trials

In order to improve the treatment of patients suffering from narcolepsy, French researchers are working on a new substance called solriamfetolcapable of both :

  • Stimulate alertness, by inhibiting dopamine transporters;
  • To improve resistance to drowsiness, by inhibiting noradrenaline transporters, involved in the regulation of wakefulness.

Recently, the publication of the results of the phase 3 clinical trial conducted with solriamfetol confirmed the interest of this substance. In this clinical trial, 240 narcoleptic patients were followed for 12 weeks. The patients were randomly assigned to groups of 60 patients, treated with varying doses of solriamfetol or placebo.

The researchers found that daily doses of 150 or 300 mg of solriamfetol resulted in fight drowsiness for about 20 minutesThis compares with only 10 with placebo or 12-13 with current treatments. These positive effects were sustained over the 12 weeks of follow-up, with no readjustment of dosage and few side effects.

According to this clinical trial, solriamfetol is more effective and longer lasting than current treatments for narcolepsy. This drug therefore shows great promise for improving the management and quality of life of patients with narcolepsy. It could also be of interest in other sleep disorders, such assleep apnea.

A new one-year clinical trial is currently underway to test the efficacy and safety of solriamfetol over a longer period of time. If its value is confirmed, it could become the next treatment for narcolepsy.

Estelle B., Doctor of Pharmacy

- Narcolepsy: a new drug to combat drowsiness. Press release. INSERM. 2 April 2019.

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