New research has uncovered a link between circadian rhythms, which are thought to operate the biological clock, and diabetes . Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have undertaken a series of studies on mice, which showed that altering the concentration of a specific protein in their bodies provided the diabetic animals some relief from their symptoms.
Published in the journal Nature Medicine, the research showed that if mice are injected with a protein that is central to keeping the biological clock of animals in check, it helped to cure the animals of diabetes to varying degrees. It is hoped that this new biochemical approach will be a step towards developing advanced therapies against diabetes.
Steve Kay, one of the lead authors, said “We know that mice that don’t have good biological clocks tend to develop diabetes and obesity . And we know that mice that have developed diabetes and obesity tend not to have very good biological clocks.”
He added “This reciprocal relationship between circadian rhythm and the maintenance of a constant supply of glucose in the body had been known for some time. But what we found that’s so significant is that a particular biological clock protein, cryptochromen, is actually regulating how the hormone that regulates glucose production in the liver works in a very specific way.”
The study may help solve the question of whether the dramatic rise in diabetes is due to a greater disturbance to sleeping cycles from more complex and busy lifestyles. Marc Montminy from the Salk Institute commented “The study may explain why shift workers, whose biological clocks are often out of kilter, also have a greater risk of developing obesity and insulin resistance .”

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