RESEARCHERS AT DOUGLAS AND MCGILL AIM TO RESET THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK
January 22, 2105
Human beings are primarily diurnal, sleeping at night and remaining awake and active during day. Loss of sleep can seriously disrupt the body’s internal biological clock. This, in turn, can cause cardiovascular problems or even cancer. There is no single therapy aimed at addressing disruptions in all biological clocks. The current understanding of the mechanisms through which the different biological clocks in the human body adapt to night-shift work is inadequate.
It is believed that these clocks essentially depend on the central clock. Animal studies have shown that the central clock located in the brain sends signals to the clocks in other organs. Glucocorticoids appear to play a central role in transmitting these signals.
Physiological changes in human body are regulated by a circadian system: an endogenous biological process in all human beings. This system consists of a central clock deep within the brain and multiple clocks in different parts of the body. Long-distance air travel or night shift can cause disturbances in these clocks. However, those suffering from bodily troubles caused by jet lag or night shift cannot now turn to science for relief. Current approaches to these problems have major limitations. No single therapy can address the disruptions in the biological clocks in human beings caused by night shift or jet lag. With a new research, it appears that there is certainly some good news.
Recent research work by a joint team from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University has revealed new therapeutic avenues for improving the synchronization of human body’s different biological clocks. Their study, reported in the journal published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), is based on a sample 16 healthy volunteers who were kept and observed in temporal isolation chambers. The study showed that the peripheral biological clocks located in white blood cells can be synchronized through the administration of glucocorticoid tablets. Much remains to be done for making these tablets acceptable for treatment of disruptions in biological clocks.