December 17, 2010

Compound Can Turn Back Your Biological Clock

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- If you regularly experience the pangs of jet lag or a crazy work schedule, then you may not be the biggest fan of your body's biological clock.  Fortunately, a new molecular compound dubbed "longdaysin" has recently shown the ability to trick it into slowing down or speeding up to potentially meet different needs.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego and three other research centers found longdaysin by conducting an automated screening of over 120,000 compounds using a robot designed to test the effects of the compounds on a series of human bone cancer cells.  These cells were genetically altered with two genes: an attached clock gene, which stimulates the cell's circadian rhythm, and a luciferase gene, which lights up when the biological clock was triggered (also seen in the glow of fireflies).

The robot was programmed to isolate the molecules that showed the greatest effects on the cells' biological clocks.  After discovering longdaysin to be the most powerful, the researchers analyzed the molecule to determine its characteristics and find out how it managed to lengthen the cells' biological clocks.  They found that the molecule's three different protein kinesis were responsible for the effect and that one of them, CK1apha, had been commonly ignored by chronobiology researchers.

"A compound that makes the clock slow down or speed up can also be used to phase-shift the clock - in other words, to bump or reset the hands of the clock.  This would help your body catch up when it is jet lagged or reset it to a normal day-night cycle when it has been thrown out of phase by shift work," Steve Kay, UCSD Division of Biological Sciences dean, and head researcher was quoted as saying.

The researchers next tested longdaysin on zebrafish larvae and found that it augmented their biological clocks by more than 10 hours.  They plan to test the compound on mice in the upcoming year.  However, they are not yet ready to synthesize longdaysin into a drug.

"Longdaysin is not as potent as we would like," Kay was quoted as saying.  "This will be a tool for research."

SOURCE:  Public Library of Science, December 2010