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Link between bio-clock, sugar metabolism found

Last updated: 21 December, 2011
Washington, Dec 21, (PTI): 22:47 IST

Scientists have discovered a missing link between the bodys biological clock and sugar metabolism system, a finding they say could help prevent side effects of drugs used for treating asthma, allergies and arthritis.

Researchers at Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the US found proteins that control the body’s biological rhythms, known as cryptochromes, also interact with metabolic switches that are targeted by certain anti-inflammatory drugs.

The finding, published in the journal Nature, suggest that serious side effects of current drugs might be avoided by considering patients’ biological rhythms when giving drugs, the researchers said.

“We knew that our sleep and wake cycle are tied to when our bodies process nutrients, but how this happened at the genetic and molecular level was a complete mystery,” said Prof Ronald Evans who led the research team.

“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.”

Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones that occur naturally in the body and help control the amount of sugar in a person’s blood, so that nutrient levels rise in the morning to fuel daily activities and fall again at night.

They function in cells by interacting with glucocorticoid receptors, molecular switches on the outside of the nucleus, which play a role in regulating inflammation.

They are used as anti-inflammatory drugs for diseases like allergies, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis as well as used to treat inflammation in cancer patients.

However, the steroids can disrupt a person’s normal metabolism, resulting in dangerous side effects, including excessively high blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and diabetic complications.

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