Scientific discoveries into regulations of the body’s natural clock may have resulted in an end to jet lag.
Writing in Molecular Cell, scientists from Singapore have shed light on how the body’s circadian rhythms (which regulate sleep) work and are controlled. It has been revealed that a protein called Period2, or PER2 (which can be seen as a natural ‘switch’ for turning sleep on and off), responds to heat as well as light and the rising and setting of the sun, resulting in an adjustment of the body clock. This discovery is significant as it could lead to the development of drugs which maintain the circadian clock’s natural speed, allowing the body to avoid lost sleep because of jet lag or shift work. The study also provides insight to one of the biggest mysteries of the circadian clock in the last 60 years and has helped to explain some of the basic mechanisms that govern the timing of the body clock.
The research used both biochemical analysis and mathematical modelling, including a mathematical model that predicts the behaviour of the clock under different circumstances.
Biochemistry applicants may want to explore the role biochemical analysis plays in the development of new drugs, whilst Maths applicants could further explore the link between mathematical modelling and drug development.