Long haul travellers can sleep easy: Body clock pill could mean an end to the misery of jet lag

By Fiona Macrae

Many long-haul travellers would give almost anything for a good night's sleep at the end of their journey.

So they'll be relieved to know that a pill to beat the misery of jet lag is being developed.

The drug resets the body's internal clock, making it easier for people to adjust to another time zone or for night-shift workers to sleep soundly during the day.

Researcher Professor Andrew Loudon, of Manchester University, said: 'It can be really devastating to our brains and bodies when something happens to disrupt the natural rhythm of our body clocks.

'We've discovered that we can control one of the key molecules involved in setting the speed at which the clock ticks and in doing so we can actually kick it into a new rhythm.'

The research, part of which was carried out by drug firm Pfizer, focused on an enzyme called casein kinase.

It helps fine-tune the 'ticking' of the biological clock.

In experiments on mice, the drug blocked the enzyme, restarting clocks that had stopped ticking, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

The drug, which is still in the early stages of development, could one day also help treat psychiatric disorders such as manic depression. Some forms of obesity could also be within its grasp.

Professor Loudon added: 'We've shown that it's possible to use drugs to synchronise the body clock of a mouse and so it may also be possible to use similar drugs to treat a whole range of health problems associated with disruptions of circadian rhythms.'

Professor Janet Allen, of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which funded the research, said: 'The most effective way to develop drugs to treat a health problem is to understand the basic biology that underpins what is going on in our bodies.

'In this case, by understanding the basic biology of the enzyme controlling biological clocks, the research team have been able to identify potential drug-based solutions to a range of issues that affect many people's health and quality of life.'

Dr Travis Wager, of Pfizer, said: 'The burden of these disorders is enormous and new treatment options are needed.'

The study is said to be the first to tackle the 'core' of the body clock, rather than peripheral cogs in its wheels.

Jet lag tends to kick in on journeys that involve travelling across more than three time zones.

Eastward journeys, such as to Asia, tend to be more problematic than westward ones, as the body finds it harder to adjust to a slightly shorter day than a longer one.

Previous research suggests that travelling on an empty stomach can help beat jet lag. U.S. researchers recommended not eating at all while in the air to fool the body's rhythms into rapidly adjusting to another time zone.

Studies also suggest that Viagra could help people shake off jet lag - but only in the case of people travelling eastwards.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1305574/Body-clock-pill-mean-end-jet-lag-misery-long-haul-travellers.html#ixzz179n5LtYA


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