We use cookies to ensure that our site works correctly and provides you with the best experience. If you continue using our site without changing your browser settings, we'll assume that you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use and how to manage them by reading our cookies policy. Hide

Current Issue

19th February 2020
Selected Chemistry & Industry magazine issue

Select an Issue


C&I e-books

C&I e-books

C&I apps

iOS App
Android App

An end to jet lag?

Posted 31/08/2010 by RoseS

Can it be true, an end to jet lag, the bane of all international jet-setters? But could the answer also be a solution to a host of other problems including psychiatric disorders and the impact of shift work?

As Andrew Loudon from the University of Manchester says: ‘It can be really devastating to our brains and bodies when something happens to disrupt the natural rhythm of our body clocks. This can be as a result of disease or as a consequence of jet lag or frequent changing between day and night shifts at work.’

Most living creatures and plants have an internal timing system called the circadian clock, which can be thrown into confusion by crossing time zones or changing from daytime to nighttime working. This body clock operates through a complex system of molecules in every cell that drives the rhythms of everything from sleep in mammals to flowering in plants. Light and the day/night cycle are extremely important for resetting this clock.

Loudon and Mick Hastings from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, together with researchers from the pharma major Pfizer, have discovered that fine adjustments are made to the clock by the action of several enzymes including casein kinase 1.

‘The circadian clock is linked to the 24 hour day-night cycle and the major part of the clock mechanism “ticks” once per day,’ says Loudon. ‘If you imagine each “tick” is represented by the rise and fall of a wave over a 24 hour period, as you go up there is an increase in the amount of proteins in the cell …, and as you go down these substances are degraded and reduce again. What casein kinase 1 does is to facilitate the degradation part.

‘The faster casein kinase 1 works, the steeper the downward part of the wave and the faster the clock ticks – any change in casein kinase 1 activity, faster or slower, would adjust the “ticking” from 24 hours to some other time period.’ What Loudon and his co-workers have done is to find a drug that slows casein kinase 1 down. They have used it in live mice and also cells and tissue samples from mice and have stopped their circadian rhythms, stopping the ‘ticking’ of the clock entirely. The ‘ticking’ has been re-established by adjusting the drug’s effect to inhibit casein kinase 1 activity.

The drug used for the studies is described as a selective CKepsilon/delta inhibitor PF-670462, but it is just the latest in long list of potential anti-jet lag substances. For many years, melatonin has been touted as the best treatment to overcome jet lag although its effects vary between individuals and although it is freely available in the US, it can only be obtained in the UK ‘off licence’ on prescription.

Perhaps this new work, based on proper research, will lead to that Holy Grail; a real way to overcome feeling hungry at all the wrong times of the day and waking up at 4.00am following that transatlantic flight.

Until the approach is tested on humans, do you have a favourite remedy for jet lag? If so, please let us know!

Neil Eisberg - Editor

Add your comment




  • Anonymous said:
    21/06/2013 10:13

    and (of course) inlanesy happy I'm gonna nap like a cat on the plane, live by my No Jet Lag phenomenal-ness and take on The West Coast once