Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Treatment Time

Protein identified that's key in regulating the body clock

14 January 2020

Treatment Time

No matter how hectic your lifestyle, the body naturally tries to run on a roughly 24-hour cycle. That’s why jet lag leaves you feeling so off. The body adapts fairly quickly after a single trip, but regular disruption, such as for shift work, can have lasting effects on health, raising the risk of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. A new study might help explain why this is. Investigating the area of the brain that keeps the cycle in time it found that one protein called CDK5 interacts with another called PER2 (green and red in the mouse cells pictured), levels of which rise and fall as the brain keeps time. Tweaking CDK5 levels adjusted mouse circadian rhythms, as did removing PER2, suggesting CDK5 regulates PER2’s activity. CDK5 has previously been linked to various neurological disorders. Could it one day be used to manipulate our body clock and treat patients?

Written by Anthony Lewis

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