Scientists in Israel say they may have unlocked the mystery of why humans and other animals operate on a 24-hour clock. It seems obvious to those of us in the modern world to operate that way, but how does our body know that? Medical News Today reports that researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered that a tiny molecule holds the clue to the mystery.
Human as well as most living organisms on earth possess circadian a (24-hour) life rhythm. This rhythm is generated from an internal clock that is located in the brain and regulates many bodily functions, including the sleep-wake cycle and eating.
Although the evidence for their existence is obvious and they have been studied for more than 150 years, only recently the mechanisms that generate these rhythms have begun to be unraveled.
A researcher of the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University, Dr. Sebastian Kadener, and one of his students, Uri Weissbein, are among a collaborative group of researchers that have now found that tiny molecules known as miRNAs are central constituents of the circadian clock. Their discovery holds wide-ranging implications for future therapeutic treatment to deal with sleep deprivation and other common disorders connected with the daily life cycle.
The sleep-wake cycle, the most characterized manifestation of the circadian clock, is generated thanks to specialized neurons found both in humans and fruitflies. (The mechanism governing the circadian clock in fruitflies is almost identical to the one mammals — and humans — have.)
Read more at Medical News Today.