Viagra enhances… jet-lag recovery

BBC picks up on the hot jet-lag study of the day: Sildenafil accelerates reentrainment of circadian rhythms after advancing light schedules, PNAS U S A, 2007.

Some initial thoughts:

  • It’s not so much that Viagra, saviour of many a marriage, is the new wonder-drug that will eradicate jet-lag a la melatonin, but that it works via a pathway already known to have an effect on jet-lag.
  • Viagra works through the NO/cGMP/PKG signalling pathway (explanations may follow if I can be bothered)
  • At least one component of this pathway, protein kinase G (PKG), has previously been shown to modulate the “speed” of reentrainment1 (aka switch to new timezone). Update: The same group has shown the involvement of the pathway in phase shifts before too, but I was being lazy earlier.
  • Work has probably already been done on this, but this is a nice example of the difference between phase advance (flying east) and phase delay (flying west) mechanisms. (Sildenafil appears to shorten the time it takes to adapt to flying east)
  • Does the media have someone sit by PubMed and trawl through it for interesting stories2?
  • Why can’t I think of cool experiments like this?3

Maybe more on this later. While the world gets excited by yet another use of the blue pill, I still have to ask people for money to fund my somewhat less titillating work. Hmm… Maybe I can incorporate this into my grant application. But somehow, I think jumping on the bandwagon will not go down so well. If only I could think of a clever selling ploy to convince reviewers of the importance of my work4.

1 This is just one of many examples; I’m too lazy to dig them all up right now.

2 For interesting, read: involving sex, drugs and rock and roll. Titillation galore!

3 Well, the thought struck me when I read a colleague’s paper on our common model and he mentioned how Viagra worked via the same pathway as the molecule we work on. But I didn’t act on it because… I am not as inspired as these clever folk down South.

4 It’s perhaps not commonly known (or rather, I didn’t know this when I was a lot younger and a lot more naive) that scientists also have to be good salespersons. It’s obvious once you get to the post-graduate level (or before if you’re somewhat less cossetted), but the more I get into this, the more I wonder about whether the amount of bullshitting that is done is actually detrimental to the science (even though it is currently the default; no bullshit, no funding). But this mini-rant deserves a full post at some point. Not now. Not until I’ve finished prostituting my work.

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