Disturbed sleep and anxiety may be a manifestation of disrupted circadian rhythm, which is maintained through the body’s internal clock. A disrupted circadian rhythm can lead to ill effects on the health of a person, also causing sleep problems and puts the whole system in chaos.
Researchers from the St. Louis University, Missouri, have found a drug which may be able to put the internal clock back in order. The research team consisted of Thomas Burris who heads the pharmacological and physiological department at the university.
“With recent chemical biology approaches, it has become possible to target certain components of the clock and begin to investigate whether pharmacological modulation of clock function and the circadian rhythm may offer an approach to treat human disease,” said the researchers.
Previous researches conducted showed that the internal clock is regulated though a protein known as the REV-ERB. The research team decided to see how this protein works to regulate the circadian rhythm and how those compounds, which interacted with this protein affected, the body. For the study they used a synthetic compound molecule known as SR9011 and used it in mice which showed signs of anxiety due to disrupted internal rhythms. SR9011 is known to activate the protein REV-ERB.
“Drug addiction clearly has a circadian component, and mice with mutations in clock genes – such as Per1, Per2, Clock and Npas2 – have altered responsiveness to the reward associated with cocaine, morphine and/or alcohol. Thus, it is quite reasonable to expect that a small-molecule regulator of the clock would modulate reward-seeking behavior,” said the researchers as they explained the potential benefit of the drug in treating addiction.
Activation of the protein REV-ERB after drug administration showed wakefulness, lessened anxiety and also reduced reward seeking behaviour in mice. The researchers noted that the drug shows promise in treatment of anxiety, mainly because normally prescribed drugs for the treatment of anxiety also reduce wakefulness and those given for wakefulness induce anxiety in patients, whereas in contrast, this drug reduces anxiety and promotes wakefulness.
“In summary, our data indicate that pharmacological targeting of the clock holds promise for treatment of disorders associated with anxiety and sleep disorders, as well as addiction,” the researchers concluded.