Protein find may conquer jet lag

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The Independent Online
SCIENTISTS ARE closer to eradicating jet lag by finding a timing mechanism that sets the body's biological clock.

Jet lag occurs when the body clock is upset by crossing time zones. Researchers hope the discovery may lead to a way of resetting the internal clocks of airline passengers.

A team from Erasmus University in the Netherlands and Tohoku University in Japan say two body proteins, Cry-1 and Cry-2, appear to be affected by the length of day and night.

Examination of human and mouse DNA found both proteins contained genes similar to those in plants known to help control the opening and closing of leaves in a 24-hour cycle.

Research results in the journal Nature showed when mice lacked Cry- 1 their body clocks ran an hour faster - determined by activity on a running wheel over 24 hours in darkness. With Cry-2 was missing, the body clock ran an hour slower. When mice lacking both proteins were exposed to total darkness for 24 hours a day, their clocks failed, showing no cycle of rest and activity displayed by normal mice.

Drugs designed to affect or interfere with the function of the proteins may eventually help overcome jet lag.