For years, doctors have associated the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations with an increased risk of breast cancer. But researchers have now identified another gene that may have an impact on breast cancer –associated with the body’s circadian rhythm.
A research team has discovered a circuit in the brains of mice connecting circadian rhythm to aggressive behavior. The discovery is particularly interesting to Alzheimer’s patients who experience increased aggression at night. The researchers have developed special protein tools capable of turning off the cells in the brain causing the behavior.
People with Alzheimer’s disease have disturbances in their internal body clocks that affect the sleep/wake cycle and may increase risk of developing the disorder. Researchers have found that such circadian rhythm disruptions also occur much earlier in people whose memories are intact but whose brain scans show early, preclinical evidence of Alzheimer’s.
What if the symptoms and seriousness of certain inflammatory diseases were linked to time of day? Researchers have been working on this hypothesis, after noting that the seriousness and mortality associated with fulminant hepatitis were dependent on the time at which the disease was induced. Their study, conducted on human cells and mice, shows that the anti-inflammatory action of a biological clock protein could prevent the onset of fulminant hepatitis, by alleviating symptoms and increasing survival rates.