The potentially lethal diseases linked to our internal "biological clock" could be avoided thanks to a simple blood test, according to a new study.
Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago have identified a link between "circadian misalignment" and diabetes, obesity, depression, heart disease and asthma.
And in doing so, they have developed a blood test, known as TimeSignature, which can indicate "time" within the body.
The team discovered that some people's internal clocks are synchronized with real time, but others are not synchronized and are considered misaligned.
Northwestern scientists have identified a link between "circadian misalignment" and diabetes, depression, obesity, heart disease and asthma. In doing so, they developed a blood test
The researchers said that a misaligned "circadian rhythm" can lead to illness and ill health.
Examples include everything from heart disease, diabetes to Alzheimer's disease, which can be prevented with the new discovery.
The processes throughout the body are controlled by an internal biological clock, which directs the circadian rhythm, like the sleep-wake cycle.
In the study, an algorithm was used to extract the blood of the subjects every two hours, before examining the level of genes present.
This allowed the researchers to train a computer to predict the time of day when specific gene patterns were present.
Of the 20,000 genes measured, 40 patterns emerged, which can be easily identified with the new test, with a person's lifestyle adjusted accordingly.
The lead author, Rosemary Braun, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at the university, said: "Several groups have tried to get the internal circadian time from a blood test, but nothing has been so precise or so Easy to use like this.
"This is a much more precise and sophisticated measure than identifying if you are a lark or a nocturnal bird.
& # 39; The TimeSignature allows us to evaluate a person's biological clock in one and a half hours & # 39 ;.
Previously, such precise measurements could only be achieved through an expensive and time-consuming process of taking samples every hour in a span of several hours.
When the blood test becomes clinically available, it will also provide doctors with the optimal time for the medications.
The co-author, Professor Phyllis Zee, chief of sleep medicine in neurology at Feinberg, said: "This is really an integral part of personalized medicine, so many drugs have optimal times for dose administration.
"Knowing what time it is in your body is essential to obtain the most effective benefits.
"The best time to take medicine for blood pressure or chemotherapy or radiation may be different from someone else."
"Before, we did not have a clinically viable way to evaluate the clock in healthy people and people with diseases."
"Now we can see if an interrupted clock correlates with various diseases and, more importantly, if it can predict who will get sick."
A link was identified between circadian misalignment and diabetes, obesity, depression, heart disease and asthma in preclinical research.
Later, Dr. Zee plans to improve health and treat diseases by aligning the circadian clocks of people who are not synchronized with external time.
She added: "The circadian moment is a modifiable risk factor to improve cognitive health, but if we can not measure it, it is difficult to know if we have made the correct diagnosis, now we can measure it exactly as a lipid level".
The software and the algorithm are available free of charge to other researchers so they can evaluate the physiological time in a person's body.
The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).