Researchers at the University of Manchester have located a key to the body's circadian clock.
In testing lab mice, scientists were able to isolate an enzyme that controls the body’s clock. The enzyme enabled researchers to manipulate mice's circadian clock, in effect resetting it.
Dr. David Bechtold, who headed up the research effort, told the Daily Mail that pharmaceutical companies could use the research discovery to produce an over-the-counter jet-lag pill in the next five or ten years.
"At the heart of these clocks are a complex set of molecules whose interaction provides robust and precise 24-hour timing," Bechtold told Yahoo. "Importantly, our clocks are kept in synchrony with the environment by being responsive to light and dark information."
The enzyme located by researchers, CK1epsilon, stabilizes the body's internal clock -- its metabolism rates and circadian rhythms. But when inhibitors were used to block this enzyme, mice were better able to adapt to new sleep schedules.
The Manchester researchers have already started collaborating with drug giant Pfizer, and a jet-lag treatment is currently in pre-clinical development.
"The drugs that we have used are amenable for development, they will work and it is a matter of optimizing them for clinical use," said Dr. Bechtold.
"As this work progresses in clinical terms, we may be able to enhance the clock’s ability to deal with shift work, and importantly understand how maladaptation of the clock contributes to diseases such as diabetes and chronic inflammation," he added.
[University of Manchester]