If you’ve ever experienced jet lag, you are familiar with your circadian rhythm, which manages nearly all aspects of metabolism. Every cell in the body has a circadian clock, but until now, researchers were unclear about how networks of cells connect with each other over time. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and collaborating institutions have developed a new method that sheds light on these circadian rhythm networks.
By activating a small subset of the neurons involved in setting daily rhythms, biologist Erik Herzog in Arts & Sciences has unlocked a cure for jet lag in mice, as reported in a July 12 advance online publication of Neuron.
Courtesy photoSome blind patients, as well as some blind animals, still show pupil constriction in response to light.We use our eyes to see, but a good deal of recent research has demonstrated that the eyes are responsible for other functions, too. Russell N. Van Gelder, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences and of molecular biology and pharmacology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has teamed with researchers at several other institutions to learn more about the eye’s second, non-visual system that is important to the body’s internal clock, as well as to other functions such as hormone release. Studying mice, the research team found that even in blind animals, it is important for the eye’s non-visual system to continue working. They believe damage to this system in the eye may contribute to several health problems in humans, even in people with normal vision.