HEAL ‘0’ Clock

The human body is a sensitive creation. It’s affected by everything, small and big. Every organ responds. Every tissue, every cell, every nucleus.

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And they all have a routine. It’s not just the whole YOU who has a routine. Not just the whole YOU needs that morning coffee at 8am without which you’re as good as dead. Not just the whole YOU can drive to work blindfolded cuz you have the whole route mapped in your head. Not just the whole YOU wakes up bleary-eyed at 7am even on a Sunday morning cuz of the office/school routine (and you immediately put yourself back to sleep before you properly wake up around noon *smirk*). Gone-rogue-stickerEach individual cell in the body follows a set routine. A set path, a clockwork. Any disruption in that path upsets the cell and it either commits suicide or goes rogue. If it goes rogue, it then incites its neighboring cells and leads a protest – resulting in diseases like diabetes and cancer.

This cellular behavior blossomed a new idea in the minds of scientists: if cell clockwork is disrupted to cause disease, can that same clockwork possibly guide healing?

English scientists in Cambridge discovered that burn injuries occurring at night (8pm-8am) needed a longer time to recover – 28 days average – than burns occurring during the day (8am-8pm), which healed in an average of just 17 days. One explanation for this is that skin cells tend to move much faster to patch-up the wound when the body clock is in daylight mode. Zooming in on individual cells, this fast response is due to accelerated activity of proteins involved in cell movement and repair. Researchers discovered that the “microscopic architecture of the cell, the actin cytoskeleton, has a 24-hour rhythm in skin cells grown in a dish (in the lab)”.

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Researchers trust that this healing process is fueled by internal circadian clocks of individual cells and NOT by signals diffusing throughout the body.

Ned Hoyle, postdoc fellow at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England and lead author of the paper suggested that “the time of surgery could be scheduled to coincide with each patient’s biological time”. This means “larks” (early risers) could undergo surgery in the morning while “owls” (late risers) could see the surgeon in the afternoon.

Research such as this, on individual cells, provides golden insights into the behavior and response of the entire body. Because every cell, every nucleus responds.

So the take-away message is: timing is crucial to the process of healing and recovery.


For more details, see the CNN article reference here






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