Harnessing biological clocks to boost fight against disease, parasites

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Image: Sleep Council

[Evolutionary parasitologist Sarah] Reece and other scientists are exploring an idea that is making waves in biology: If the body is on a circadian clock, then invasion of the body—whether by a parasite, virus, or bacterium—might be governed by a clock as well, either in the host or in the invader. Embracing this may lead to a reconceptualization of the basic biology of infection and immunity as a time-sensitive dynamic that varies with the hour of the day.

It follows, then, that invaders might get a leg up or be knocked down by lows and highs in the immune system’s activation, by the availability of exploitable host resources, or by myriad other factors that the clock controls.

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The trick will be to see whether these insights can be turned back against the invaders. Already, a few studies have suggested that vaccines given at the right time of day produce a more robust immune response. Perhaps scientists will eventually be able to use an understanding of the circadian clock to optimize the use of pharmaceuticals—ensuring that some vaccines don’t need supplementary boosters to become fully protective, for example, or guiding the dosage times for medications to best effect.

Read full, original post: Biological Clocks Could Drive the Immune System

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