Gene found that makes body clock keep time
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent and i. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; four times highly commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigations into the tobacco industry. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Friday 29 April 1994
The find opens the way to understanding how the body stays in synchrony with night and day and of developing drugs to help those whose internal clocks have gone awry.
Mutations in the gene cause the body's circadian rhythm of sleep and wakefulness to break down. When laboratory mice have two copies of the mutated gene they become alert or sleepy at any time of day or night, like some insomniacs, shift workers or travellers who cross time zones.
The gene in mice occurs in a region of its chromosomes that has an equivalent region in humans. This suggests the gene also serves an essential role in the good time-keeping of our own body clock, according to Joseph Takahashi, professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
Designing drugs to help jet lag and insomniacs with inaccurate body clocks is now possible, he said. 'It's clearly a big step towards that because we now have a tangible gene to search for, whereas before we could only guess at what these genes were,' he said.
The research, published in today's issue of the journal Science, is the first to find a gene in a mammal which is essential for keeping the rhythm of the body clock going.
In humans, researchers have shown that a small piece of tissue deep inside the brain - the suprachiasmic nucleus - controls the hormones that keep the body clock ticking away. The brain uses external cues, notably bright light, to ensure the human body clock is adjusted correctly.
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 3 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
University of Cambridge: Remains of 1,300 scholars are found under building
April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
April Fools' Day 2015 live: The best pranks and fake stories from around the world
Turkey power cut: Prime Minister says nationwide blackout could be caused by terrorists
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...