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There may be a cure for jet-lag and tiredness from shift-work

At last.

Image: Shutterstock/zkruger

SCIENTISTS IN JAPAN may have discovered a cure for jet-lag.

In news that will come as sweet relief to those who struggle after long plane journeys, researchers in the Nagoya University Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules have designed molecules that modify the body’s circadian rhythm.

The negative impacts of jet lag and shift work could be significantly reduced if it were possible to reset our 24-hour natural circadian or sleep/wake cycle. The Japanese researchers found molecules that act directly on one of our “clock proteins,” called CRY.

Most living organisms, including humans, have a biological clock that resets every 24 hours, regulating functions such as sleep/wake cycles and metabolism. When this cycle is disrupted, like in jet lag, sleep disorders ensue. Long-term sleep loss may affect the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and nervous systems.

Our biological clock is basically run by four “master regulator” proteins that work in tandem. CLOCK and BMAL1, when combined, promote the production of the proteins PER and CRY. These proteins, in turn, block CLOCK and BMAL1, thus closing the cycle.

A molecule discovered in 2012, called KL001, lengthens the circadian cycle by competing for the same spot on the CRY protein, preventing its degradation.

Takashi Yoshimura, one of the researchers says that the research could have wide-ranging implications.

“We hope we can make further use of synthetic chemistry to make bioactive molecules that can control the circadian rhythm of animals and gain further insight into the circadian clock mechanism, which will surely contribute to medical applications, food production and advances in clock research.”

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