A team of chemists and biologists at the Institute of Transformative Bio- Molecules (ITbM) at Nagoya University in Japan have found new molecules that change the ‘circadian’, or body clock, of mammals.

Most living organisms have a biological clock with a 24-hour rhythm, which regulates body functions such as sleep, hormone secretion, and metabolism. Disruption of the rhythm by genetic mutations and environmental factors such as jet lag may lead to sleep disorders, as well as obesity, cancer and mental problems. A team of synthetic chemists, chronobiologists and theoretical chemists have now discovered the first molecule that targets the clock’s protein CRY. The team says that the study could be useful for developing further molecules that can control the circadian rhythm in mammals, which may overcome diseases and control reproductive activity in animals which would assist in food production.

Takashi Yoshimura, an animal biologist and professor at ITbM, who led the research from a biological perspective., said:“We hope we can make further use of synthetic chemistry to make bioactive molecules that can control the circadian rhythm of animals and gain further insight into the circadian clock mechanism, which will surely contribute to medical applications, food production and advances in clock research. “This has been a wonderful experience for me to work with chemists and we will continue to work together for more exciting results to come.”

Research grant

Caladrius Biosciences, Inc, a US-based cell therapy company, has received an award from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health to investigate 3D retinal constructs to restore vision in patients with age-related macular degeneration. The grant of $671,633 will support a three- year study led by Dr. Hans S. Keirstead, Caladrius’ Senior Vice President, Research, and Chief Science Officer.

Fighting back

The US Government has awarded a contract for the final phase of construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas. The $834 million award will secure completion of the centre, which will research possible threats to the nation’s food supply and agricultural sector.

Learning more

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas in America has awarded UTSouthwestern Medical Center researchers more than $7.5 million to improve diagnostic and therapeutic services relating to cancers of the brain, breast, throat, and bone, as well as to improve scientific understanding of cancer biology. UTSouthwestern received an additional $4 million to recruit emerging cancer scientists.