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Have Fish, Will Travel

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Could a fish become a frequent flier’s best friend? If it helped scientists find a cure for jet lag, it could. In fishing for a cure for this perennial travel complaint, scientists at the University of Houston have created a zebra fish with a transgene that luminesces in sync with its circadian rhythms. The circadian clock is a biochemical timer that helps regulate behaviors such as sleep patterns, metabolism and body temperature.

Researchers Maki Kaneko and Gregory M. Cahill reported their work in the February edition of the online journal PloS Biology. They hope to use the fish to analyze how and when the circadian clock is activated, what molecular-level changes take place at different stages in each cycle and how these are affected by environmental factors such as light and temperature. They believe that understanding such reactions in fish could eventually lead to drugs or other means of helping humans adjust to jet lag and other disruptions in their daily regimens.

Cahill said that the research is still a long way from anything clinical, but that understanding circadian mutations could be very useful in creating assays to screen for things that reset the clock.

We jet-setters are waiting with “baited” breath.

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2005
circadian rhythmsjet lagLighter SideUniversity of Houstonzebra fish

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