Enzyme inhibition makes mice more adaptive to environmental changes
Time zone changes and irregular working patterns can wreak havoc on our bodies, but a team from the University of Manchester may have found a solution. When a certain enzyme in the body was inhibited, mice were able to adapt to a new environment much more quickly than before. It could mean a new drug that makes it easier for frequent fliers and shift workers to adapt to constant change.
“We are not genetically pre-disposed to quickly adapt to shift-work or long-haul flights, and as so our bodies’ clocks are built to resist such rapid changes,” says Dr David Bechtold, the scientist who led a University of Manchester team that worked with in collaboration with Pfizer “Unfortunately, we must deal with these issues today, and there is very clear evidence that disruption of our body clocks has real and negative consequences for our health.”
The enzyme in question is casein kinase 1epsilon (CK1epsilon), which forms part of our body clock, and when lacking in the body speeds up adaption to different light-dark environments. “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,” says Dr Bechtold.
In the meantime, shift workers and frequent travelers can try out devices such as Re-Timer and Litebook which tackle the same problem from a different angle. Unlike drugs, which are more likely to interfere with your body’s natural chemistry, light therapy offers a low-impact way to adjust your circadian rhythm.