A Cure For Jetlag? Scientists Identified A Particular Gene that could be the Answer
For people who travel frequently, dealing with jetlag could take a toll on one's physical or mental health. Since sleep is vital in helping the body recuperate while boosting cognitive abilities, it is important to remember to get the right amount of sleep everyday. For avid travellers dealing with jetlag, sleep could be hard to come by. Now, according to new research, preventing jetlag might be a possibility in the future.
In this study, researchers from Oxford University were able to identify a gene associated with how the body adjusts to new time zones. The scientists were able to discover the gene after working with mouse models. When the gene was deactivated, the researchers found that the body clock stopped itself from re-setting. By prohibiting the body from re-setting, the researchers observed that mice without the activated gene experienced little to no jetlag after being moved through three different time zones. They discovered that the mice without the gene were able to recover from jetlag around three times faster than mice with the gene activated.
"We've identified a system that actively prevents the body clock from re-adjusting," the co-author of the study, Dr. Stuart Peirson from the University said according to Daily Mail. "If you think about it, it makes sense to have a buffering mechanism in place to provide some stability to the clock. The clock needs to be sure that it is getting a reliable signal, and if the signal occurs at the same time over several days it probably has biological relevance. But it is this same buffering mechanism that slows down our ability to adjust to a new time zone and causes jet lag."
Since the body has a natural circadian rhythm that influences eating and sleeping patterns, disturbing this internal clock affects one's natural routine. This disruption could then lead to days of fatigue and loss of sleep. By understanding how this gene works, the researchers hope that some form of treatment, possibly in a pill, could treat jetlag.
"We're still several years away from a cure for jet-lag but understanding the mechanisms that generate and regulate our circadian clock gives us targets to develop drugs to help bring our bodies in tune with the solar cycle," Russell Foster, director of the Oxford University Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, said. "Such drugs could potentially have broader therapeutic value for people with mental health issues."
The study was published in Cell.