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Bacterial Clocks

June 23, 2015

Splicing internal clock genes from one species of bacteria into another could lead to a novel way of delivering drugs at specific times of day.



A bacterial timekeeper. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Most organisms have built in 24-hour clocks, or circadian rhythms, that regulate metabolism and chemistry. That’s one reason people feel jet-lagged when they travel to different time-zones. E. coli bacteria, that live in the dark confines of our gut, have no internal clock. In the journal Science Advances, Harvard bioengineers Pamela Silver and Anna Chen describe taking the clock gene from photosynthetic cyanobacteria and inserting it into E. coli. Silver says the work could lead to timed drug delivery systems.

PAMELA SILVER (Wyss Institute, Harvard University):

So if you had a bacteria that was delivering something on a 24-hour cycle, you perhaps could coordinate it with your body rhythm.


Since many disorders flare up at particular times, these bacteria could deliver drugs right when they’re most needed. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.