Jet lag could well become a thing of the past, if a new drug, which is currently under development finds its way to the drug stores.
A new drug capable of resetting body’s own internal clock to adjust with the new time zones for long-hauled travellers suffering from jet lag is now on around the corner.
The new drug was found successfully blocking certain key enzymes which are responsible for jet lag in mice studies. The enzyme called casein kinase is responsible for the setting of body clock. The new drug can inhibit the activity of casein kinase 1, the researchers found.
“We’ve discovered that we can control one of the key molecules involved in setting the speed at which the clock ticks and in doing so we can actually kick it into a new rhythm,” stated Professor Andrew Loudon from the University of Manchester who led the study.
Normally, the sleep-wake cycles in the human body is regulated by a complex chemical process called circadian rhythm.
“The circadian clock is linked to the 24 hour day-night cycle and the major part of the clock mechanism ‘ticks’ once per day. If you imagine each ‘tick’ as represented by the rise and fall of a wave over a 24 hour period, as you go up there is an increase in the amount of proteins in the cell that are part of the clock mechanism, and as you go down, these substances are degraded and reduce again. What casein kinase 1 does is to facilitate the degradation part.
“So you can imagine that the faster casein kinase 1 works, the steeper the downward part of the wave and the faster the clock ticks – any change in casein kinase 1 activity, faster or slower, would adjust the ‘ticking’ from 24 hours to some other time period. Consider that if your body suddenly starts working on a 23 hour or 25 hour clock, many of your natural processes, such as sleeping and waking could soon become out of step with day and night,” according to Professor Loudon.
band Dr Mick Hastings of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, working with a multi-disciplinary team of scientists from Pfizer led by Dr Travis Wager, and is published today (24 August) in PNAS.
Professor Loudon said “It can be really devastating to our brains and bodies when something happens to disrupt the natural rhythm of our body clocks. This can be as a result of disease or as a consequence of jet lag or frequent changing between day and night shifts at work.
Since the drug is found successful in stopping and synchronise the body clock of a mouse, it could also be possible to use similar drugs to treat problems associated with disruptions of circadian rhythms. This might include some psychiatric diseases and certain circadian sleep disorders. It could also help people cope with jet lag and the impact of shift work, Professor Loudon hoped.
Currently, there are no specific therapy for jet lag. Certain sleep-inducing drugs including zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata) and triazolam (Halcion) are prescribed to manage sleep in people suffering from jet lag.
Nuvigil, developed by the Pennsylvania-based pharmaceutical company Cephalon is one of the drugs which seeks approval for jet lag indication.
Nuvigil (armodafinil) was launched in the United States in June 2009 and is indicated to improve wakefulness in patients with excessive sleepiness associated with treated obstructive sleep apnea, shift work sleep disorder, also known as shift work disorder (SWD), and narcolepsy.
Cephalon has filed a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for Nuvigil (armodafinil) tablets in June of last year.
US FDA granted a priority review for for Nuvigil (armodafinil) as a treatment for improving wakefulness in patients with excessive sleepiness associated with jet lag disorder due to eastbound travel.
However, US FDA denied approval for NuVigil to treat jet lag disorder and asked for more safety data.
Jet lag is an acute condition where the body finds it difficult to adjust with a diffrent time zone. Jet lag usually results from travelling across more than three time zones. Journeys to the east are more likely to give jet lags to travellers than trips to the west.