A pill for jet lag?

Jet lagged? There may soon be a pill for that. Scientists are one step closer to developing a jet lag pill that could relieve millions of long-haul passengers from restless nights and mid-afternoon slumps.

Announced December 15, US researchers from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and three other institutions published new findings of a molecule, dubbed "longdaysin," that has the most potent effect ever seen on the biological clock.

The molecule has an ability to dramatically slow down the biological clock, and could pave the way for a host of new treatments for severe sleep disorders or quickly reset the biological clocks of jet-lagged travelers who frequently travel across multiple time zones.

In the study, researchers found that the new compound, discovered using a genetic research robot that screened more than 120,000 potential molecular compounds, lengthened the biological clocks of larval zebrafish by more than 10 hours, scientists said. The next step is to test the drug in lab animals.

"A compound that makes the clock slow down or speed up can also be used to phase-shift the clock - in other words, to bump or reset the hands of the clock," said researcher Steve Kay, dean of UCSD's Division of Biological Sciences in the release. "This would help your body catch up when it is jet lagged or reset it to a normal day-night cycle when it has been thrown out of phase by shift work."

The findings were published in PLoS Biology, a peer-reviewed journal published online by the Public Library of Science. Access it here:
http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1000559

 

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