I've been watching the progress of this research for several years, and excited to see it come out publicly this week in Science Translational Medicine.
When they profiled the immune cells of narcolepsy patients and compared it to healthy controls, they found T cells specific to hypocretin, the hormone that keeps you awake. It is possible that hypocretin specific T cells are killing off the neurons that produce hypocretin, causing narcolepsy.
Interestingly, they found an association between developing these hypocretin specific T cells, and exposure to the 2009 swine flu strain, or certain flu vaccines. And to all the anti-vaxxers, this is due to potential antigenic mimicry (things from the wild that happen to look like things within our body), and NOT because vaccines are inherently bad for you.
Fascinating stuff, and hopefully means that narcolepsy can be treated with immune modulating drugs. And also means that we should at least take a look at future flu vaccine components, and make sure they aren't so immune boosting that they can trigger expansion of hypocretin specific T cells.
(Also, hi! First post! Hope you guys are interested in random bio things =P).