Clinic Locations

Woolcock Sleep Clinic
Phone: (02) 9114 0000
Address: 431 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW, 2037 Email: reception@woolcock.org.au
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Phone: (02) 9515 6655
Address: Level 11, Main Block, Missenden Road, Camperdown, NSW, 2050
Integrated Sleep Health
Phone: (02) 9238 2209
Address: MLC Building, Level 57, 19-29 Martin Place, NSW, Sydney, 2000 Email: info@isleephealth.com.au

Professor Ron Grunstein

Professor of Sleep Medicine

MBBS, MD, PhD, FRACP

How mutant mice will help select Mars missionaries

Posted: January 30, 2016

tyrp1002Mars

Human population-based and experimental studies show that disrupting the body clock is not good for your health and maybe your survival. Normally the internal body clock runs very close to 24 hours which allows alignment with the natural light/dark cycle. If your body clock is abnormal you could be in trouble.
Scientists at the University of Manchester used a mutant mouse genetic model that has a shorter body clock period than normal. They have a short-period mutation in the enzyme casein kinase 1ε (tau mutation), which speeds up the body clock cycles. These mice were compared with normal mice in a semi-natural environment measuring daily activity, survival and reproduction.  Survival was reduced in the  mutant mice, revealing strong selection against mice-types with shorter body clock periods. Over the course of 14 mo, the number of  the mutant sub-type dropped from 50% of the total mouse population at start to 20%. Therefore mice with near 24-h rhythms survived longer and reproduced more than mice with rhythms shortened by the mutation. Apart from the potential crucial significance for humans subjected to body-clock deviations under abnormal work and lighting schedules, it would deep impact on such extreme circadian-challenging activities such as Mars missions.