Mice run by starry clocks

Star-shaped cells called astrocytes, long considered boring, “support cells,” are finally coming into their own. To everyone’s surprise they even play an important role in the body’s master clock, which schedules everything from the release of hormones to the onset of sleepiness.

VIP treatment for jet lag

A small molecule called VIP, known to synchronize time-keeping neurons in the brain’s biological clock, has the startling effect of desynchronizing them at higher dosages, says a research team at Washington University in St. Louis. Neurons knocked for a loop by a burst of VIP are better able to re-synchronize to abrupt shifts in the light-dark cycle like those that make jet lag or shift work so miserable.