New Study Explores the Mysterious Time Delays in Circadian Clock

by VR Sreeraman on Aug 28 2007 4:24 PM

Scientists believe that they have found the reason behind the mysterious time delays in the body’s internal clock - circadian clock -that controls sleeping and waking patterns.

Cornwell researchers have suggested that a new, unknown molecule, focus-binding mediator (FBM), may help explain the mathematical modelling of the body system better.

Molecular interactions that control the circadian clock function within milliseconds, still body resets the clock every 24 hours.

Researchers have been trying to understand what stretches the expression of the clock over such a relatively long period.

“We didn't discover any new proteins or genes. We took all the existing knowledge, and we tried to organize it," Cornell biomolecular engineer Kelvin Lee said.

Using mathematical models initially created by Kevin C. Hon from Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain, the research team set out to map the molecular interactions of proteins called period and timeless -- widely known to be related to the circadian clock.

The group hypothesized that an extra, unknown protein would need to be inserted into the cycle with period and timeless, a molecule that Cornwell graduate student Robert S. Kuczenski named the focus-binding mediator, in order for the cycle to stretch to 24 hours.

Lee said many scientists are interested in studying the circadian clock, and not just to understand such concepts as jet lag -- fatigue induced by travelling across time zones.

“Understanding the body's biological cycle might, for example, lead to better timing of delivering chemotherapy, when the body would be most receptive,” Lee said.