New drug in the offing to cure jet leg

December 4th, 2008 - 11:47 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Dec 4 (IANS) Researchers in Australia have identified a new drug that could potentially ease jet lag and sleep disorders caused by working in shifts. Shantha Rajaratnam from Monash University’s School of Psychology, Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine said tasimelteon, a drug which acts on melatonin receptors in the brain, could be a highly effective treatment for circadian rhythm sleep disorders.

“Our studies show that tasimelteon is able to effectively shift the rhythm of melatonin levels in the body, which are a well-established marker of the human biological clock,” Rajaratnam said.

“This drug has the potential to improve the quality and quantity of sleep for patients with transient insomnia caused by jet lag,” she added.

Tasimelteon improved a patient’s ability to fall asleep and then stay asleep when bedtime was shifted earlier by five hours, according to a Monash University press release.

About two thirds of all international travellers who cross time zones experience jet lag symptoms, which include disruption of sleep, difficulty getting to and staying asleep, sleepiness during waking hours and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Rajaratnam said the drug could also help those who work at night or early in the morning.

The drug is in the later stages of trials and must undergo rigorous testing before being made available to consumers. The research was publsihed in The Lancet.

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