It’s long been speculated that humans and animals possess an intrinsic “circadian rhythm,” also known as an internal body clock. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have uncovered the specific chemical switch that accounts for this internal body clock mechanism, which could lead to revolutionary advances in medications.
The study, lead by Paolo Sassone-Corsi, found that a single amino acid in the BMAL1 protein group is responsible for regulating circadian rhythms. The ability to isolate this single amino acid could have profound implications on many pharmaceutical and treatment procedures.
Circadian rhythms account for many essential genetic functions, including regulating sleep cycles, adapting to weather changes, and adjusting to hormonal cycles or imbalances. It is recognized that “10 to 15 percent of all human genes are regulated by circadian rhythms.”
Many health issues, including insomnia, behavior issues, heart disease and cancer, may be a result of this single amino acid that triggers circadian rhythms, malfunctioning.
Targeting this BMAL1 amino acid could lead to revolutionary advances in medications ranging from sleeping pills and antidepressants, to heart disease and cancer treatments.
Sassone-Corsi and his team are now doing research by testing antibodies that target the specific amino acid. This research should lead to the ability to develop medications that can correct malfunctions in the BMAL1 amino acid, therefore presumably regulating circadian rhythms and leading to profound advances in medicine and treatments.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Sassone-Corsi, Paolo. Hirayama, Jun. Sahar, Saurabh, et al. Nature. “CLOCK-mediated acetylation of BMAL1 controls circadian function.” December 2007.