Chronic insomnia is a sleep disorder mostly treated with non-benzodiazepine hypnotics such as zolpidem or eszopiclone. While these drugs successfully promote sleep by stimulating the activity of the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutiryc, they impair attention and memory.
According to Jason Uslaner and colleagues, Merck & Co Inc., West Point, PA, USA, these side effects can be avoided by using drugs which inhibit orexin, a neurotransmitter controlling wakefulness. The researchers demonstrated that DORA-22, a α-methylpiperidine carboxamide antagonist of orexin 1 and 2 receptors, induces sleep at doses 30 times lower than the ones which impair memory and attention. As consequence, when compared to zolpidem or eszopiclone, DORA-22 produced less side effects on the cognitive system.
Orexin receptors antagonists may, therefore, constitute a better alternative to non-benzodiazepine drugs to treat insomnia.
- Orexin Receptor Antagonists Differ from Standard Sleep Drugs by Promoting Sleep at Doses That Do Not Disrupt Cognition,
J. M. Uslaner, S. J. Tye, D. M. Eddins, X. Wang, S. V. Fox, A. T. Savitz, J. Binns, C. E. Cannon, S. L. Garson, L. Yao, R. Hodgson, J. Stevens, M. R. Bowlby, P. L. Tannenbaum, J. Brunner, T. P. Mcdonald, A. L. Gotter, S. D. Kuduk, P. J. Coleman, C. J. Winrow, J. J. Renger,
Sci. Transl. Med. 2013, 5 (179), 179ra44.