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 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
How China's richest man Li Hejun lost $15bn in an hour - and made a fortune
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...