Oz scientists developing drug which resets body clock

Updated: May 03, 2012, 15:07 PM IST

Melbourne: Australian scientists are developing a drug targetting the genes controlling circadian rhythms, which help to reset the disrupted body clocks in people.

Chris Liddle from University of Sydney`s Westmead Millennium Institute said, the discovery highlights the importance of the genes in the liver to regulate digestion at appropriate times and could help jet-lagged travellers or shift workers to reset their disrupted body clocks, AAP reported.

People with Circadian rhythms tend to have higher incidences of obesity and diabetes.

These conditions are not necessarily caused just by poor diet but also by the body clock disruption and sleep cycle and when the two are thrown out of sync, the body may not be ready to absorb nutrition, Liddle said.

"You might come home from work and have your dinner at a time when the body clock has not set your liver up to process that nutrition," Liddle said.

He said a disrupted body clock could take days or weeks to reset.

The study found that when particular receptors in the liver were removed, the body clock does not function properly.

"Clearly these receptors are very important in setting the liver up in the right part of the clock cycle to accept and process nutrition and to regulate digestion," Liddle said.

He said the discovery of the gene functions meant that drugs could now be developed to target those receptors and provide relief for people affected by disrupted circadian rhythms.

"We`re potentially coming up not only with something that helps you when you travel or when you change shifts on shift work, but may be relevant to people with diabetes, obesity and related metabolic problems," he said.