Scientists Uncover Clue to Jet Lag

Blame a protein called SIK1

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 30, 2013 7:56 AM CDT | Updated Sep 1, 2013 7:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – The next time you're battling jet lag, go ahead and curse SIK1. That's the protein that apparently prevents our body clocks from resetting, according to a new study. Researchers studied some 100 genes that start working when they're exposed to light to help recalibrate one's body clock, and found that SIK1 shuts those genes off, the BBC reports. We have mice to thank for the discovery: When researchers blocked SIK1's activity in the creatures, the mice were able to speedily adjust.

Explains a researcher, "We reduced levels by 50% to 60%, which is big enough to get a very, very big effect. What we saw was the mice would actually advance their clock six hours within a day [rather than taking six days for untreated mice]." The hope is that a drug can be developed that would similarly deactivate the protein in humans. PhysOrg notes that body-clock "disturbances" have also been tied to mental disorders like schizophrenia, so the findings could have even broader implications. (Click for another story related to sleep ... or lack thereof.)

A drug to prevent jet lag may be in our future.   (Shutterstock)
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