A study of 450 people given Vanda Pharmaceuticals' experimental sleep drug tasimelteon demonstrated that the therapy can swiftly reset a body's circadian rhythm, offering a potential new treatment for people who suffer from jet lag or the effects of a night shift schedule. The drug mimics the natural effect of melatonin, which regulates sleep patterns according to the amount of light and darkness an individual is exposed to.
The researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston say the drug was effective at restoring regular sleep from the first night and could be used without the kind of potential for addiction and abuse that has plagued other sleep therapies. Patients taking the highest dose available in the study slept 428 minutes compared to an average of 324 minutes for volunteers taking a placebo.
"This is a very promising first step," Dr. Jay Udani, from the Northridge Hospital Medical Center, told the Los Angeles Times. But the research "does not prove that it works for jet lag or shift workers," he added. "That needs controlled studies in the field."
- see Vanda's release
- read the report from the Los Angeles Times