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Up And At 'Em

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, have uncovered a new gene mutation that may allow people to get by on less sleep, Scientific American reports.

After reporting in 2009 that they'd identified a gene mutation associated with how much sleep someone needs, the researchers tell Wired they received numerous messages from people who were short sleepers, needing only a few hours of sleep a night. Earlier this year, they reported in Neuron that they'd found a rare mutation in ADRB1 associated with natural short sleep.

The researchers, led by UCSF's Louis Ptáček and Ying-Hui Fu now report in Science Translational Medicine that they sequenced the exomes of a family of short sleepers to identify a point mutation in the neuropeptide S receptor 1 (NPSR1) gene. When they developed a mouse model of this mutation, the researchers found the mice slept less, though did not exhibit memory issues associated with a lack of sleep.

"These people sleep more efficiently," Fu tells Sciam. "Whatever function sleep is doing for us, it takes us eight [hours to feel rested], but it takes them six or four hours. If we can figure out why they are more efficient, we can use that knowledge to help everybody to be more efficient."

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.