New chemical may lead to jet lag drug

Dec 16, 2010 by Lin Edwards report
Overview of biological circadian clock in humans. Image: Wikipedia.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Jet lag, as every long-distance airline passenger knows, disrupts the body's normal circadian rhythms, or body clocks, and causes some very unpleasant effects such as disturbed sleep and fatigue. Now scientists in the US have isolated a chemical that could lead to the development of a drug to combat jet lag.

Dr. Steve Kay, dean of the Division of Biological Sciences of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), said our body clocks are "a symphony of biological rhythms in all of our different organs." The body clock in the brain controls the cycles of sleeping and waking and changes in body temperature, the cardiovascular system has a body clock controlling blood pressure. Another body clock controls metabolic rhythms.

Dr. Kay explained that in jet lag these rhythms no longer play together "as an orchestra" and that is why it makes us feel so bad. Flying across several time zones, shift work, and other disruptions to the body clocks have also been linked to conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.

The research team began to look for chemicals that affect the body clocks by taking a gene that causes fireflies to glow and inserting it into human bone cancer cells. This created cells that glowed when their biological clocks were activated. They then used a robot to test around 120,000 for their effects on the cycle of glowing in the cells. In this way they discovered a naturally occurring chemical, which they called "longdaysin," that slowed down the cycle considerably.

Longdaysin is a derivative of a purine, which is a common aromatic organic compound. The researchers found several other compounds that also affected the , but longdaysin had the most dramatic effect. It was also found to alter the biological clock in tissues isolated from mice, and lengthened the biological clock in larval zebrafish by over 10 hours.

Dr. Kay said longdaysin will be an effective tool for research, and it, or molecules like it, may become a component of drugs for within around 15 years. The drugs would slow down or speed up the body clocks for a short period to allow the body to adjust to the new time zone or new shift. The drugs could also be used for sleep disorders like Familial Advanced Sleep syndrome, a genetic disorder in which the body clocks run too fast.

The research paper is available online in the journal PLoS Biology.

Explore further: Structure of sodium channels different than previously believed

More information: Hirota T, Lee JW, Lewis WG, Zhang EE, Breton G, et al. (2010) High-Throughput Chemical Screen Identifies a Novel Potent Modulator of Cellular Circadian Rhythms and Reveals CKIa as a Clock Regulatory Kinase. PLoS Biology 8(12): e1000559. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000559

Related Stories

Genetic link between body clocks and blood pressure

Aug 31, 2007

A region of DNA involved in the body’s inbuilt 24 hour cycle (the circadian rhythm) is also involved in controlling blood pressure, report scientists from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) at the University ...

Recommended for you

Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature

Apr 16, 2014

Researchers at Griffith University's Eskitis Institute have developed a new technique for discovering natural compounds which could form the basis of novel therapeutic drugs.

World's first successful visualisation of key coenzyme

Apr 16, 2014

Japanese researchers have successfully developed the world's first imaging method for visualising the behaviour of nicotine-adenine dinucleotide derivative (NAD(P)H), a key coenzyme, inside cells. This feat ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HenisDov
1 / 5 (3) Dec 16, 2010
Update Sleep (And Life) Comprehension

Sleep Proves RNAs Lifehood

From:
"On Genes And Genomes, Concepts And Terminology"
http://darwiniana...t-355245

Some figments of present science imagination are corrected, including:

- SLEEP is inherent for life via the RNAs, the primal Earth ORGANISMS formed and active only under direct sunlight in Earth-life's pre-metabolism genesis era.

IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN AND IT STILL IS AN RNA EARTH LIFE.
All Earth organisms are takeoffs of RNAs.
Science should adjust its vision, comprehension and concepts.

Dov Henis
(Comments From The 22nd Century)
Simon_Watkins
5 / 5 (1) Dec 17, 2010
@HenisDov

Not Even Wrong. FFS, Not Even English!

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...