Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What is Modafinil?

Through science fiction movies, film makes and writers are given the opportunity to unleash their imaginations to the audience.  In turn, the movie world is filled with things that are generally unbelievable in the real world.  It is true that movie technology can easily be dismissed as mere fantasies.  Although most of these "movie technologies" seem impossible in the real world, it seems that by now only imagination is the limit to scientific achievements.

The idea of a certain technology or drug that allows humans to achieve peak performance levels is present in a number of movies.  Most of the time, real world science is nowhere near to developing the same kind of technology as featured in these movies.  This is why these films are classified as science fiction.  But there is one movie technology that made it out of the 'fiction' category.

In the film 'Limitless', a struggling writer, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) discovered a drug called NZT-48.  It is an experimental drug that supposedly unlocks 100% of the brainpower of anyone who takes it.  The drug improved the brain functions of the Eddie to borderline superhuman, grating him laser-sharp focus, a learning ability increased a hundred-fold, heightened alertness and reflexes, and the ability to recall everything and anything he's ever heard or read in his lifetime.

A drug like that sounds too good to be true, but what if it isn't?

Stimulants are drugs that temporarily improve physical or cognitive functions; sometimes both.  There are a lot of legal forms of stimulants that help with conditions such as narcolepsy, lethargy, obesity, and headaches.  But none of them works anywhere close to the NZT-48, except of course, the Modafinil.

The Modafinil is an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved eugenic, or a wakefulness-promoting drug.  It is originally intended to treat narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and excessive daytime sleepiness.  However, its effects do not focus on neurotransmitter stimulation like other stimulants, which is why addiction/dependency is safely avoided.

The drug was originally formulated by a French professor named Michel Jouvet and Lafon Laboratories.  It was offered as treatment for narcolepsy in 1986.  It became available in France as "Modiodal" and in America as "Provigil" during the 1990's.  It was then approved in the UK in 2002 and was marketed as "Modafinil" by Cephalon Inc.