Ever feel like all those drugs you’re taking aren’t working as well as you had hoped? Don’t you wish you could just take the drugs you need without worrying whether or not you’ll be hit with all different sorts of side effects? Well look no further people because scientists have discovered a missing link between the body’s biological clock and sugar metabolism system, a finding that may help avoid the severe side effects of drugs used for treating asthma, allergies and arthritis.
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies report finding that proteins which control the body’s biological rhythms, known as cryptochromes, also interact with metabolic switches that are targeted by certain anti-inflammatory drugs. The finding suggests that side effects of drugs might be avoided by considering patients’ biological rhythms when administering drugs. “Now we’ve found the link between these two important systems, which could serve as a model for how other cellular processes are linked and could hold promise for better therapies,” says Ronald M. Evans, the man leading the research and a professor in Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory. Side effects that can be avoided with this discovery include excessively high blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and diabetic complications.
The Salk researchers found a way around these side effects by discovering a new function for cryptochromes 1 and 2. It was found that the cryptochromes slow down the clock’s activity, signaling our biological systems to wind down each evening. In the morning, the cryptochromes stop inhibiting the clock’s activity, which in turn helps our physiology ramp up for the day.
In their new study on mouse cells, cryptochromes are seen as being essential “to how the clock interacts with our daily metabolism of nutrients,” says Katja A. Lamia, an assistant professor at The Scripps Research Institute and former post-doctoral researcher in Evan’s laboratory at Salk. Since mouse cells function much like human cells, the findings could have significant implications for treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. Scientists say by taking into account the daily rise and fall of cryptochrome levels, side effects related to sugar metabolism can be thwarted. If the world can have more drug treatments without all the looming caveats, the world will be a slightly better place to get sick in!
1. Katja A. Lamia, et al. Cryptochromes mediate rhythmic repression of the glucocorticoid receptor. Nature, 2011.