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Body’s Biological Clock Rethought

Scientists have discovered that two known receptors in the body have major control over our daily clock rhythms — eating cycles and metabolism of nutrients from food. Previous research found that two genes worked to rev up and slow down the master clock in the brain that is set by light and determines sleep-wake cycles and eating behavior. But, the new findings essentially suggest a new avenue for treating disorders of both systems, including jet lag, sleep disorders, obesity, and diabetes.

The research team at California’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies are excited because this may allow the formation of drugs to induce that feeling of being alert, hungry, and physically active—usually felt in the morning—specifically for individual's daily schedules. "This explains how our cellular metabolism is tied to daylight cycles determined by the movements of the sun and the earth," says Satchidananda Panda, an associate professor in Salk's Regulatory Biology Laboratory and co-author on the paper. "Now we want to find ways of leveraging this mechanism to fix a person's metabolic rhythms when they are disrupted by travel, shift work or sleep disorders."

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