International travellers, who often complain of jet lag and sleeping disorders will soon have a treatment in hand, as scientists have now discovered a unique “cog” in the sleep-controlling human body clock which may help them avert these disorders.
It is believed that the body clock governs the circadian rhythms of the body and connects the cycles of metabolism and behaviour to the cycle of day and night.
It often gets disrupted by old age, disease, international travel and shift work and such disturbance not only causes problems sleeping and eating, but also leads to serious illness.
And now, researchers have identified a molecule, known as c-AMP, a common signalling molecule, which plays a major role in keeping the body clock’s “rhythms” going. This molecule is located in the hypothalamus of the brain, which harbours cells that keeps the body clock in alignment with the other major organs including the heart, lungs and liver.
Led by Michael Hastings, at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, the study found that the body clock keeps ticking owing to the daily activation of this molecule, or “cog” in tandem with the body’s genes and proteins.
When the circadian day starts, genes are switched on which then produce proteins, which in turn go on to switch off the same genes at the end of the day. These proteins are then broken down over the circadian night and the process continues again beginning the next morning.
The scientists have claimed that this knowledge of the mechanism of circadian clock may pave the way for new treatments for jet leg and other sleep disorders, in which the body clock is effectively “reset”. The technology arm of the laboratory has applied for a patent application for looking after the pharmacological methods of manipulating the molecule.
Sources: The Times Of India