Scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh have discovered a mechanism which governs the 24-hour ‘body clock’ within all (ancient and modern) living creatures.
Published in the journal ‘Nature’, the researchers have uncovered some exciting truths to the circadian rhythm which is supposedly what controls all natural cycles of life – both daily and seasonally – in each living species.
Circadian rhythms are typically thought to stem from DNA and / or gene activity within the cell. The recent study contradicts this assumption, finding ’24-hour rhythms’ within red blood cells which do not contain DNA.
Lead author from the University of Cambridge study Akhilesh Reddy explains;
The implications of this for health are manifold. We already know that disrupted clocks — for example, caused by shift-work and jet-lag — are associated with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, mental health problems and even cancer. By furthering our knowledge of how the 24-hour clock in cells works, we hope that the links to these disorders — and others — will be made clearer. This will, in the longer term, lead to new therapies that we couldn’t even have thought about a couple of years ago.
Similar studies at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, and the Observatoire Oceanologique in Banyuls in France have uncovered body clocks in marine algae. This find suggests that circadian rhythms are far more ‘ancient, important and sophisticated’ than first believed.
- Circadian rhythms persist without transcription in a eukaryote
- Circadian clocks in human red blood cells