A pill to cure jet lag will be on sale in five years, say researchers


Volcanic ash causes travel disruption

A pill which can reset the human body clock and cure jet lag will be on sale within five years, thanks to a new scientific discovery.

Researchers at Manchester University have pinpointed the mechanism that governs how people react to long-haul travel or working irregular hours.

When it is suppressed, it resets itself, allowing the body to adapt to a different pattern.

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which worked with the Manchester team, says it has a treatment in pre-clinical development, and other companies are thought to be investigating other lines of research for similar products.

Dr Bechtold told the MailOnline: 'Within five to ten years the availability of drugs which can be used to target the body clock in people will start to become a reality.'

The researchers discovered the gene which produces an enzyme that controls part of the circadian clock. They deleted the gene in mice to stop them producing the enzyme, called casein kinase 1epsilon.

The team then studied the mice for changes by timing the lights switches in their cages to replicate a weekend flight to New York.

The mice without the crucial enzyme adapted much faster to the new day-night pattern and displayed much smaller metabolic disruption.

The finding has allowed pharmaceutical firms to investigate a pill to temporarily block the enzyme in humans.

Dr Bechtold said: 'By tackling this enzyme we can wind the body clock back or forwards, we can modulate the clock.

'So jet lag could be eliminated by using inhibitors on the family of enzymes which sets the speed of the clock.

A number of so called "cures" for jet lag have been brandished recently by airlines, in a bid to help passengers beat their body clocks.

The Valkee, an ipod-like headset which emits light signals to the brain via the ear canal, is currently being tested on passengers travelling with Scandinavian airline Finnair. If the trial proves successful, the device may be made widely available by international airlines.

Boeing's brand new luxurious Dreamliner aircraft is designed to give passengers more oxygen and humidity, and is equipped with a lighting system which helps with the switch to local time by simulating the light and colours of sunrise and sunset.

BA.com even has a jet lag calculator which tells you the hours to seek or avoid light before you go.

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