Scientists found a way to adjust the circadian clock – Innovita Research

Your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. Sometimes you feel full of energy and ready to tackle whatever the day is going to throw at you. And then you feel tired and want to go to sleep. These fluctuations are controlled by the circadian clock. If it does not work perfectly, you may feel tired in the middle of the day and can even get seriously sick. But now scientists at the Nagoya University Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules found a way to adjust it.

The circadian clock determines when we sleep and when we wake up. Image credit: Doalex via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

If a clock on your wall is not running properly, you just take it and adjust is slightly. We can’t do the same with our circadian clock. Despite huge advancements in medicine we cannot deal with inaccuracies of our circadian clock. There are some supplements that help, we have sleeping pills and exercise regimes. But fine, accurate and timely adjustments are difficult.

Now scientists discovered two small molecules, KL101 and TH301, which can lengthen the period of the circadian clock. KL101 and TH301 are able to target CRY1 and CRY2, which are cryptochrome proteins, little gears inside of our circadian clocks. Scientists used X-ray crystallography to determine how KL101 and TH301 bind to CRY1 and CRY2. They found that CRY proteins can selectively bind to different molecules. This study showed that tail regions of these proteins are responsible for imparting compound selectivity. And because CRY1 and CRY2 are required for the differentiation of brown adipocytes medicine with KL101 and TH301 could actually be used to treat obesity.

The circadian clock (also known as circadian rhythm) is not a single process or some part of our body. It is a bundle of different processes that are happening in your body at all times. Many different proteins participate in circadian clock, which makes it difficult to research. This mechanism has to work pretty precisely though, despite it being constructed from hundreds of different parts. Problems with the circadian clock can cause huge health issues, including sleep disorders, metabolic syndrome, and cancer. In fact, poor sleep-wake cycles can accelerate aging and significantly impact your productivity. This is why scientists are looking for ways to adjust the circadian clock.

Scientists will continue their research into molecules that can help regulating the circadian rhythm. This research could result in various treatments – from insomnia to obesity. And, hopefully, soon we will be able to diagnose problems with the circadian clock more precisely.


Source: Nagoya University