Are you an early-rising lark or a night owl? These terms have gained scientific credibility, with researchers determining such differences have a basis in genetics. The sci-fi-sounding jargon for this inclination is your “chronotype,” and it can create significant discrepancies between your internal biological time and the external time shown by the clock on the wall. Now three teams of scientists are converging on a way to read a person’s internal time from blood samples. A quick, accurate and cheap method for doing this could maximize the benefits of time-sensitive medical treatments and help researchers study the links between disrupted biological clocks and various chronic diseases.
…[Computational biologist Rosemary] Braun’s team claims its method is the most generalizable—it can be used with any technology for analyzing gene activity. But it requires two blood samples, whereas the studies by [chronobioligst Achim] Kramer’s team (published last September and first published online last June, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation) and by [physiologist Derk-Jan] Dijk’s team (published online in February 2017 in eLife) describe methods that can work with just one.
Because people’s internal time most likely also makes a difference [in chemotherapy efficacy], being able to measure it more easily would help doctors personalize treatments. “This could mean lower doses, fewer side effects, greater efficacy,” Braun says. “We’re really excited about the potential.”
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