Circadian clock and chronotherapy
The circadian clock is the master regulator of our physiology. It governs our entire body: from the biological functions of the cells to our sleep-wake times. For some time, scientists have been investigating the efficacy of chronotherapy. Chronotherapy is the practice of treating patients in accordance with their inner biological clock on a daily, monthly, seasonal, or yearly basis to optimise health benefits while minimising side effects.
It’s crucial to understand how our bodies react to treatment at different times throughout the circadian cycle. It is also essential to understand how circadian timing can affect functional changes in different diseases.
Treatment efficacy and side-effects
The circadian timing of drug administration can influence biological responses to the drugs. Studies have reported possible variations in antibiotic responses to bacteria, and the response of cancer cells to chemotherapy depending on the period of administration. Interestingly, there are certain times of the day that anti-cancer drugs are the most efficacious and least toxic. The correct timing of treatment delivery can improve treatment outcomes, recovery times and the quality of life of the patients.
And the list of diseases and health problems that can benefit from chronotherapy is already long. For instance, patients who have heart surgery in the afternoon have a lower risk of complications compared to those who have it in the morning. According to the researchers, this could be linked to certain protein levels, whose expressed levels are high in the morning and low in the afternoon.
The future ingredient of the medicine
We could soon see chronotherapy being part of standard medicine practices with rapid advances in technology, availability of wearable devices and more studies conducted in this research area. Chronotherapy represents another arm in the effort to individualise treatments. Truly personalised medicine could improve treatment and recovery outcomes.