Exhausted police and hospital workers could someday benefit from a compound observed to perk up sleep-deprived rhesus monkeys. Neurobiologists at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine administered the chemical, called CX717, to 11 monkeys after keeping them awake for 30 to 36 hours (with music, treats, and other stimuli). After receiving the compound, the sleep-deprived animals performed normally at a memory task requiring them to pick out an image matching one they had seen up to 30 seconds before. Scans revealed that the drug reverted their brain activity to that of their normal resting state, the group reports in the August 22 Public Library of Science, Biology. Moreover, the chemical boosted the performance of rested monkeys by up to 15 percent. In May, Cortex Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the compound, also reported that the drug improved performance in 16 sleep-deprived male volunteers, but the research is still unpublished.
This article was originally published with the title "No Sleep, No Problem" in Scientific American 293, 5, 34 (November 2005)