Important discoveries in the treatment of narcolepsy begin with Gelineau giving the illness a name in 1880. Not until 1935 were amphetamines used as a treatment and REM sleep was only discovered in 1960. Research in narcoleptic dogs went on during the 1970's and 1980's, with the late 1990's bringing the discovery of hypocretins/orexins and their receptors. Recognition that the sleep wake cycle is regulated in part by this neurotransmitter is an important first step toward a future cure.

It's amazing to think that it wasn't until 2000 that human narcolepsy was shown to be associated with an hypocretin deficiency.

UCLA's paper on the topic, from Neuron, September 2000, can be found along with many others on their website.

A pdf copy of a paper on hypocretin (orexin) deficiency in human narcolepsy, published in Lancet, 2000 can be found on the publications page of Stanford's Center for Narcolepsy, which has lots of other important articles.

Jerome Siegel's 2000 Scientific American article on Narcolepsy is a great overview and highly recommended.

The Stanford School of Medicine narcolepsy website has a narcolepsy research FAQ.