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Sunday, November 29, 2009

New discovery may help beat jet lag

London: Scientists from University of Manchester have discovered special cells in the body that appear to regulate a person's body clock.

This finding, they hope, would provide vital clues to help combat jet lag.

It was believed that these cells remain inactive during the day, however, the new study has found the contrary.

According to Professor Hugh Piggins, lead researcher and an expert in neuroscience at the university, the research will allow a new approach to help tune our daily clock.

Researchers believe that the brain regulates body clock by firing more cells during daylight and very few during the night.

"The traditional model said the clock and the brain communicated to the rest of the brain via the number of electrical impulses that the brain cells were producing," The BBC News quoted Piggins saying.

"These impulses would travel around the brain, telling it what time of day it is.

"What we've found is in fact that there are at least two types of cells in this part of the brain," he added.

These brain cells contain a key gene called per1 that allows them to sustain unusually high levels of "excitability".

The cells becoming so "excited" that they seem quiet or even dead; but then later they calm down, recover and become normally active again.

It is this activity, which tells the human body when to be awake.

"There's a lot of interest in the pharmaceutical industry, obviously, to try to develop chemical treatments to reset your daily clock to help counteract things like jetlag," said Piggins.

"Or, perhaps more importantly, different kind of sleep disorders for which dysfunctions in this clock are often involved," he added.

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