American researchers found out how the human clock works and received the Nobel Prize for Medicine 2017. Scientists found out: Our internal clock not only determines the sleep and wake cycle, but can also have an effect on the therapy.
Chronotherapy, adapted to your own biorhythm, thus focuses on when drugs are best used. This is enormously important in the treatment of cancer. Cancer cells divide most at certain times, depending on the genotype of the cancer. Applying cancer therapies at these times can lead to faster and more effective destruction of the tumors and other cancerous lesions. Chronotherapy involves syncing the time at which cancer drugs are administered with a patient’s natural biorhythm with the goal of mitigating side effects as well as maximizing the effectiveness of the drug. This involves administering drugs when healthy cells are least prone to the toxicity of these drugs or when cancer cells are most vulnerable to the effects of the drug.
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Whether you’re a morning person or night person can influence the effectiveness of chemotherapy. While Campian’s study has been observing that the 8 PM dosage time seems to be optimal for most patients, the most effective time for a drug’s administration is not universal but rather specific to a patient’s individual biorhythm. Each person has individual intervals of alertness and sleepiness, which correlate to internal molecular activity. Thus, chronotherapy must be personalized to each specific patient even if a certain time is better for most patients on average. Decoding personal chronotype can help uncover the optimal time to go to bed in order to get the best night’s sleep, or in this case the optimal time to take cancer drugs for their toxicity to be at their lowest and their effectiveness to be at its greatest.
Not only do humans have optimal times for drug administration, but the drugs themselves have specific times in which they will be most effective. Because each class of chemotherapy has an individualized method of killing cells, each drug also has a window of time in which it is most productive.
Chronotherapy for cancer is one of the hottest research areas of Oncology.