Melatonin-Like Drug May Cut Jet Lag
Tasimelteon May Aid Sleep and Reset Body Clock After Abrupt Shifts in Sleep Schedule
Dec. 3, 2008 -- An experimental drug called tasimelteon, which acts like the
hormone melatonin, may take the edge
off of jet lag.
Researchers report that news in yesterday's online edition of The
Melatonin, made by the pineal gland, helps set the body's sleep-wake schedule. Tasimelteon is a melatonin-like drug
that's in development. Another melatonin-like drug, called Rozerem, is already
approved by the FDA to treat insomnia.
In a series of lab tests, tasimelteon capsules improved sleep in adults
whose sleep schedule was suddenly changed.
Those experiments compared various doses of tasimelteon to a placebo in
healthy adults who didn't have chronic sleep problems and who were regularly
getting eight hours of nightly sleep.
During the experiments, participants' sleep schedule was suddenly advanced
by five hours, such as sleeping from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. after being used to
sleeping from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
People who got tasimelteon slept longer and reported better sleep than
people who got the placebo, report the researchers, who included Harvard
Medical School's Shantha Rajaratnam, PhD.
Side effects, which were similar in the tasimelteon and placebo groups, were
generally mild and included headache, according to the study, which was funded by
tasimelteon's maker, Vanda Pharmaceuticals of Rockville, Md.
Further studies should be done to see how tasimelteon affects people during
the day, Rajaratnam and colleagues note.
An editorial published with the study points out that melatonin-like drugs don't make people sleepy like other types of
sleeping pills do, and consumers would need to be educated about that so their
expectations are reasonable.