A UC Irvine research team led by Rainer Reinscheid, associate professor of pharmacology and the program in pharmaceutical sciences, has found that a genetic variant of the Neuropeptide S (NPS) receptor is associated with panic disorder in male patients. In addition, the researchers confirmed that the NPS gene is found in a region on human chromosome 7 that had been previously associated with panic disorder in two independent studies. Reinscheid was the first to describe and name NPS in 2004, finding that this brain protein is involved in the regulation of sleep and wakefulness, and can modulate anxiety behavior. Studies on how the NPS system works can lead to development of pharmaceutical compounds that can potentially treat mental illnesses. The study appears online in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry.