Dr Julie Gibbs, a researcher at the Centre for Endocrinology and Diabetes at the University of Manchester's Institute of Human Development, and her colleagues harvested cells from joints of healthy mice and humans that are important in the pathology behind inflammatory arthritis.
The cells, which have a 24-hour rhythm, were altered to disrupt the rhythm by knocking out the cryptochrome gene. This led to an increased inflammatory response.
When drugs were given to activate the protein, the researchers found it protected against inflammation.
Dr. Gibbs explains, “By understanding how the biological clock regulates inflammation, we can begin to develop new treatments which might exploit this knowledge. By adapting the time of day at which current drug therapies are administered, we may be able to make them more effective.”
Researchers at the University of Manchester also found that discs in the spine have 24-hour body clocks, which, when they do not work properly, can contribute to lower back pain.
Over 80 per cent of people are expected to suffer back pain during their life times, with the condition being more likely in old age.
Dr Qing-Jun Meng, a Senior Research Fellow funded by Arthritis Research UK, said: “The discovery of body clocks in the disc may go some way to explain, for the first time, the science behind the rhythmic physiology of the spine. This system is regulated by our internal body clock and when the body clock ceases to work properly during ageing or in shift workers, lower back pain is more likely to become an issue.”