Natural rhythms of the body could hold key to more effective drugs and fewer side effects

Scientists in Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory, San Diego, California, US, have found delivering drugs into the body at a specific time may help avoid the serious side effects of some asthma, allergy and arthritis drugs. Put simply, at certain times, proteins called cryptochromes, which control the body’s biological rhythms, also interact with metabolic switches that are targeted by the anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat asthma, allergy and arthritis.

Steroid hormones called glucocorticoids occur naturally in the body and control the amount of sugar produced by the body at certain times of day – producing more in the morning and less at night in preparation for sleep and relaxation. They also play a role in regulating inflammation and are used in anti-inflammatory drugs for the arthritis, asthma and allergies that are caused by an overactive immune system. But because of the glucocorticoids role in sugar metabolism the steroids can seriously disrupt normal metabolism resulting in dangerously high blood sugar levels and diabetic complications.

The scientists at Salk have found ways that these side effects might be avoided by considering patients’ biological rhythms when administering drugs, and by developing new drugs that target the cryptochromes.

Source: Medical News Today

First published in December 2011


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