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Ever wondered your body clock might play a key role in assisting drug delivery? If the results of the study reported in the journal Science Advances are positive, you will soon have a cure for jet lag. And what's more, drugs used to treat various types of cancer can now be delivered based on your body clock thereby aiding in effective treatment.
A team of scientists led by the Harvard synthetic biologist Pamela Silver have harnessed the circadian mechanism found in cyanobacteria to transplant the circadian wiring into a common species of bacteria that is naturally non-circadian. This methodology has been used to successfully transplant a circadian rhythm into the bacterial species E. coli.
What is cicardian rhythm?
Often referred to as the 'body clock,' circadian rhythm controls what time of day people are most alert, hungry, tired or physically primed due to a complex biological process.
Circadian rhythms, which oscillate over a roughly 24-hour cycle in adaptation to the Earth's rotation, have been observed in most of the planet's plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria, and are responsible for regulating many aspects of organisms' physiological, behavioural and metabolic functions. (Read: Revealed how genes control 24-hour circadian rhythm in humans)
What are the future implications of this study?
'The ultimate dream application would be to deliver these circadian E. coli to an individual in pill form, which could allow the circadian rhythm to be linked to additional biological circuits in order to perform a precisely-timed release of drugs, or to be able to sense and influence the host's circadian rhythm,' said study's first author Anna Chen from Harvard Medical School.
The human circadian rhythm has been shown to impact metabolism, which when disturbed can contribute to obesity and glucose intolerance. (Read: 3D printers a novel way to deliver drugs)
Cancer treatment, jet lag and circadian rhythm?
What's more, many drugs including those commonly used to treat various cancers have been shown to fluctuate in their efficacy based on the time of day and the point in a patient's circadian cycle in which they are administered.
Researchers hoped that jet lag too might someday be combated using circadian E. coli that could be used to re-programme and adjust the body's circadian rhythm to match the travel destination's day-night cycle. (Read: A cue to treat diseases related to circadian dysfunction found)
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