Health Discoveries in General Health News

Findings shed light on disease linked to body clock

January 28, 2011
Researchers from Cambridge University in the UK have linked red blood cells to the circadian "body" clock, shedding light on illnesses that plague people who work shifts that disrupt a normal sleep schedule.

In a related study, scientists from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland found that the circadian clock in human cells is the same as that in algae, indicating it dates back to early life on earth. Both studies are published in the current issue of the journal Nature.

The Cambridge finding on red blood cells indicates that the body clock is not linked to DNA as previously believed.

"We already know that disrupted clocks...are associated with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, mental health problems and even cancer," said lead researcher Akhilesh Reddy. "By furthering our knowledge of how the 24-hour clock in cells works, we hope that the links will be made clearer."

One of the diseases linked to disruption of the body's circadian clock, diabetes, is the focus of a clinical trial under way within the North Shore-LIJ Health System that focuses on diabetes patients who also live with coronary artery disease. The trial is comparing two diabetes treatments - heart bypass surgery and the use of coronary stents - to learn which is more effective.
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