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Jet lag antidote no flight of fancy, say scientists

posted 15 Feb 2011, 07:07 by Mpelembe   [ updated 15 Feb 2011, 07:12 ]
Scientists in San Diego believe an antidote for jet-lag may one day be a possibility, following the discovery of a molecule that can alter the circadian rhythms - or body clocks - of experimental zebra fish. The ability to alter the way humans respond to time changes on long-haul flights is still an abstract idea, but the scientists say their discovery holds real promise for sufferers of jet lag. Ben Gruber reports.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - Everybody hates jet-lag. It causes fatigue and a disturbed sleep schedule.

Recent research has also linked an out-of-phase body clock with a greater risks of cancer, diabetes and even obesity..

Steve Kay, chief biologist at the University of San Diego is working on a drug to combat the effects of jet-lag.


"In a jet lagged or shift worker, what's happening is that your biological clock which normally tells you when you should be digesting food, when you should be active, when your blood pressure should be peaking at the right time of day, all of a sudden those things become out of synch with the external environment."

After exposing a line of human cells to more than 120,000 different chemical compounds. Kay and his team identified a molecule that alterered the cells' biological rhythm. They named the molecule "Longdaysin".


"If you expose the cells to Longdaysin for just a short time, it actually bumps the hands of the biological clock. So for example we might change a biological clock that is normally ticking and thinks its noon, and some application of longdaysin for a short time can certainly change this clock's time from noon to 4pm."

The team has tested "Longdaysin" on Zebra fish larvae. The molecule lengthened the biological clocks of the fish by more than ten hours. Kay says that the fish continued to grow normally and showed no side-effects.

The researchers want to start testing the compound on mammals next and then hopefully humans.

Kay says he sees a day when long-haul travellers and shift-workers can simply pop a pill to sync their biological clocks with the one on the wall.

Ben Gruber, Reuters.