Newly Discovered Gene May Hold Key to Curing Jet Lag
Recent medical studies have shown that there is a certain gene within the body that correlates with jet lags whenever our body travels to a different time zone. This specific gene slows down the body’s ability to adapt to a new time zone. It is therefore speculated by several researchers that if we can develop the ability to suppress this gene we can very well have the ability to prevent jet lags.
How Our Internal Clock Ticks
The human body has its own internal clock called the circadian clock that operates on a 24 hour cycle. This internal clock helps keep us subconsciously aware of our sleep and wake cycle based on our natural time zone.
The internal clock or circadian clock reacts to daylight but whenever a person travels to a significantly different time zone the circadian clock is thrown into confusion which results in jet lag. Our internal clock is regulated by a certain part of the brain; this part is known as the Suprachiasmatic Nuclei or SCN. The SCN gathers information fed to it by the eyes which determine whether it is time for the body to rest based on the level of natural light in the environment. Hence, if it is dark then the body starts to slow down readying itself for a sleep and vice versa.
However, one question continues to evade answers and that is why it takes so long for our internal clock to reset when we travel to a vastly different time zone.
In order to synchronize the body’s internal clock quicker studies are currently underway as to how the gene works and how we can push it to retune quicker. Scientist does believe that this gene that slows down our body’s ability to adjust to a different time zone has a valid purpose. It is currently seen as a sort of buffer that helps ensure that the change is accurate and not just an anomaly.
It takes the brain some time to decide whether the information being delivered by the eyes is a reliable one and if a retune of the circadian clock is necessary. But this is also the cause as to why our bodies take some time to sync with a different time zone and the cause of jet lag.
Studies of SCN in mice were conducted and revealed that at least a hundred genes were reacting to the light and darkness test which then led to a slow but steady adjustment of the circadian clock within the mice.
But there was one specific molecule that took the attention of scientists, the SIK1. This molecule was discovered to be the one causing the slowdown of the body’s adaptation to a different time zone and is seen as the main cause of jet lag.
Scientists then went on and tested suppressing SIK1 from working which in turn resulted with the mice adjusting quicker from constant changes in the day and night cycle test.
Future of Curing Jet Lags
This new discovery about this specific gene offers a new potential cure from jet lag but scientists themselves admit that it is still a long way from being developed but it is a step in the right direction. This potential cure to jet lag can also cause some positive effect on several sleep disorders as well such as insomnia.
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