Navigation Links
Researchers identify new drug target for treating jet lag and shift work disorders

University of Notre Dame researchers, as part of a collaborative effort, have identified a protein that potentially could be a target for drugs that that would help people recover faster from jet lag and better adjust their circadian rhythms during rotational shift work. The study appears in the Aug. 29th issue of the journal Cell. It can be found at:

An internal circadian body clock helps virtually all creatures synchronize their bodily functions to the 24-hour cycle of light and dark in a day. However, travel to a different time zone, or shift work, disrupts the body's clock. Furthermore, it can take up to a day for the body to adjust to each hour that the clock is shifted, resulting in several days of fatigue, indigestion, poorer cognitive performance and sleep disturbance.

Giles Duffield, associate professor of biological sciences at Notre Dame and a member of the University's Eck Institute for Global Health, and Kevin Flanagan, a University alumnus and now a doctoral student at Washington University in St. Louis, characterized the protein SIK1, revealing that it plays a pivotal role in preventing the body from adjusting too quickly to changes in the environment.

Duffield and Flanagan, along with researchers from University of Oxford and F. Hoffman La Roche, and led by senior research scientist Stuart Peirson at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, identified roughly 100 genes that the body switches on in response to light, initiating a series of events that help to retune the body clock. They identified one gene and its corresponding protein product, called SIK1, that limits the body clock's ability to adjust to changes in the daily patterns of light and dark. In one particular experiment, when the researchers blocked the activity of SIK1 in laboratory mice, the mice adjusted faster to changes in the light-dark cycle that mimic a time zone change. The study proposes that the light-stimulated production of SIK1 in turn switches off the molecular pathway that feeds into the clock mechanism, thereby halting the shifting response of the biological clock.

"Our key contribution to the project was to manipulate the SIK1 protein pharmacologically, and we revealed that such blockage of the protein's activity in combination with exposure to a natural clock resetting agent, such as light, enhanced the clock shifting response," Duffield said. "For example, a one hour shift of the clock became two hours. We also showed this effect in both peripheral tissues as well as in the clock in the brain.

"It would appear that SIK1 plays a common role in our circadian clocks found throughout our body, and working as a hand-brake on our ability to shift our biorhythms and adjust to new time zones, whether these are real or artificial, such as those produced during shift work schedules."

In addition to the inconvenience of jet lag, disruptions in the circadian system, such as produced during shift work, have been linked to many diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Disturbances of the circadian clock have even been linked to mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease and seasonal affective disorder, also known as winter depression. It is important to note that approximately 16 percent of the U.S. and European workforces undertake some form of shift work.

"Having such a hand-break on the circadian clock systems makes sense so as to prevent excessive responses to environmental change, and that it is only in our modern 24-hour society, with Thomas Edison's light bulbs, Nikola Tesla's electricity, and jet airplanes, that we begin to realize our biological limitations," Duffield said.

The researchers' identification of the role SIK1 plays in the body clock offers a tractable target for drugs that could help us adjust faster to changes in time zone and help ameliorate the effects of rotational shift work.

"The fact that it is a kinase enzyme makes it an attractive target for the design of novel therapeutics," Duffield added.

Flanagan worked on the project as an undergraduate student, writing an honor thesis on his research data and presented his work at the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms meeting in 2012.

"Being involved in this project as an undergraduate student and presenting my data at an international conference really crystalized my interest in scientific research as a career," Flanagan said.


Contact: Giles Duffield
University of Notre Dame

Related medicine news :

1. NIH awards $20 million over 5 years to train next generation of global health researchers
2. Researchers develop a new cell and animal model of inflammatory breast cancer
3. Researchers uncover a viable way for colorectal cancer patients to overcome drug resistance
4. Researchers Find Gene Mutations That May Be a Key to Autism
5. Researchers find evidence of banned antibiotics in poultry products
6. NJ stroke researchers report advances in spatial neglect research at AAN Conference
7. Autism by the numbers: Yale researchers examine impact of new diagnostic criteria
8. Researchers Map Brain Regions Linked to Intelligence
9. Researchers ID Genes That May Determine Mental Illness
10. Researchers Develop Blood Test for Depression
11. University of Cincinnati researchers win $3.7M grant from US Department of Defense
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/27/2016)... Brooklyn, NY (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 ... ... is using cutting edge technology to revolutionize the emergency ambulance transport experience for ... Many are aware of how Uber has disrupted the taxi industry through the ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... ... Pixel Film Studios Released ProSlice Levels, a Media Slicing Effect Plugin ... whole new perspective by using the title layers in ProSlice Levels to split-up ... Levels contains over 30 Different presets to choose from. FCPX users can ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... issues and applications at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, at the ... several important health care topics including advance care planning, healthcare costs and patient ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... First Choice Emergency Room , the largest ... as the Medical Director of its new Mesquite-Samuell Farm facility. , “We are ... Mesquite location,” said Dr. James M. Muzzarelli, Executive Medical Director of First Choice Emergency ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits of moderation, whether it’s a matter ... bar too high can result in disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. However, those who set ... , Research from reveals that behind the tendency to set low ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Research and Markets has ... - Forecast to 2022" report to their offering. ... for the patients with kidney failure, it replaces the function ... the patient,s blood and thus the treatment helps to keep ... in balance. Increasing number of ESRD patients ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... to 2022" report to their offering. ... financial data derived from varied research sources to present unique ... on the market during the next five years, including a ... markets, regional and country level analysis. The report provides a ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... RIDGE, Ill. and INDIANAPOLIS ... of students receiving a Lilly Diabetes Tomorrow,s Leaders Scholarship ... The 2016 scholarship winners, announced today online at ... to let type 1 diabetes stand in the way ... Diabetes has supported the Foundation,s scholarship program since 2012, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: