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Sleep protein found in battle against anxiety

Do you suffer from a sleep or anxiety disorder? Don’t fret, for such problems are fairly common and now scientists appear to have zeroed in on a protein that plays a key role in regulating our internal clock. Targeting this protein may fix such disorders the scientists believe.

The sleep protein called REV-ERB has been tracked down by Thomas Burris, chair of pharmacological and physiological science at Saint Louis University, and his colleagues. “Our study showed that we could alter the circadian rhythm in mice by injecting a synthetic compound that turns on REV-ERB,” Burris said.

Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour biological process governing our waking and sleeping patterns. The internal clock that maintains circadian rhythm is essential for normal physiological functions among mammals.

Disruption of circadian rhythm is associated with metabolic and neuropsychiatric disorders including bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and sleep disorders. The REV-ERB drug, the scientists discovered, increases wakefulness, lowers REM and slow-wave sleep and, reduces anxiety significantly. Further, the drug appears to have a role in suppressing reward-seeking behaviour. This, doctors believe, may help them in treating addiction, which is essentially associated with reward-seeking behaviour.

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