Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI)
Fatal familial insomnia (FFI) is a genetic disorder characterized by the brain’s progressive deterioration which leads to its main symptom which is inability to sleep. This rare condition is caused by the mutation of the PRNP (prion protein) gene. FFI particularly targets the thalamus which regulates sleep and relays motor and sensory signals. This means that the individual with FFI may present problems with sweating, breathing, heart rate, temperature regulation, and other autonomic system processes. Some patients have also suffered from speech difficulties and dementia. The symptoms during the early stages include inability to fall asleep or staying asleep, muscle stiffness or spasms, loss of appetite, progressive memory loss, and inability to focus. In the more advanced stages, the symptoms include inability to sleep, deterioration of cognitive functioning, loss of motor coordination, increased blood pressure, excessive sweating, difficulties in swallowing or speaking, unexplained weight loss, and fever.