Mutant Gene Disrupts Internal Biological Clock In Humans [VIDEO]
A new study indicates that a variation of a gene that disrupts the internal biological clock in humans could be the reason there are some people who are still awake way past their bedtime.
The study conducted by The Rockefeller University reported a discovery of a mutation in the CRY1 gene slows down the internal biological clock in humans. The circadian rhythm is the cycle your body follows in a 24-hour cycle that primarily responds to light and darkness in the environment.
The variation in the gene is expressed in humans as delayed sleep phase disorder (DPSD), a condition associated with being a night owl. The mutated gene was discovered in the DNA of a patient with DPSD who in turn had five relatives who had the mutated gene and a history of irregular sleep patterns, New Scientist reported.
A collaborator of the research also found the gene in several unrelated families in Turkey. After interviewing them, the team found that these families had 38 members who had DPSD had the night owl syndrome but other members of the families without the CRY1 mutation had regular sleep patterns, The Rockefeller University Newswire reported.
The scientists believe that the internal biological clock in humans can be controlled because people with DPSD can beat the condition if they stick to a strict schedule. Like other conditions, there are things that the night owl can do first, like getting more sunlight exposure in the day, before using the help of drugs.
While the cause of the problem is known, a fix for the condition is still a long way into the future. The researchers believe, though that the mechanism of this discovery can influence how drugs are going to be developed in the future.
The researchers plan to study the effects of the gene mutation on hunger and hormones of people with DPSD as the circadian rhythm is also responsible for regulating a person's metabolism.