Patent of the Month October
Determining the Chronotype
At the end of October, the clocks are set back by one hour to winter time. Despite the extra hour, many people have difficulty adjusting to the new rhythm and for example suffer from sleep disturbances. As a matter of fact, restful sleep strongly depends on whether you work with or against the “internal or circadian clock”, which is genetically predetermined. It’s good to know how your internal clock ticks! The Berlin-based Start-up “BodyClock” provides the answer. The spin-off of Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin has developed the world’s first RNA hair kit to determine chronotypes. The innovative method is based on many years of research and clinical trials validation by the working group led by chronobiologist Prof. Dr. Achim Kramer. In 2021, the results were filed for a European patent EP4202059A1 titled “Method for determining a circadian rhythm type of a human subject“– our patent of the Month October!
Since the 1950s, so-called chronobiology has been investigating which mechanisms control the sleep-wake cycle and thus certain physiological functions of our body - e.g. blood pressure, body temperature, digestion - and also cognitive performance. It was found that all body cells are subject to a working cycle that spans 24 hours or one day and is therefore referred to as a "circadian rhythm" (circa: approximately, dian: Latin dies = day). In order to "function", all biochemical processes of our body must mesh. The working cycle is synchronised in a kind of nerve cell control centre in the hypothalamus of our brain. It is individually clocked for each person and determines the inner rhythm. All chronotypes can be roughly divided into three different groups: people who are active early in the morning, so-called "larks", people who are more active in the evening, so-called "owls" and the "doves" who are active in between.
Hectic everyday life with fixed schedules for working, eating and leisure activities as well as increasing media consumption, can cause discrepancies with the genetically determined biorhythm. The “internal clock” gets out of balance, with potentially serious health hazards. This can lead to chronic insomnia, metabolic or cardiovascular diseases and even depression or cancer! This is where the start-up "BodyClock" comes in and offers solutions to better harmonise the biorhythm with external requirements. The decisive factor here is identifying one's own chronotype. For this, BodyClock has developed a ground-breaking new method: A submitted hair sample is sufficient to determine one's classification in one of the three categories mentioned above! In the patented method, the amount of messenger RNA (mRNA) in the hair is analysed. This correlates with the activity of the genes. Based on this, it can be concluded which genes are active in the morning, in the evening and at night, in order to derive insights into physiological processes in the body.
The innovative process is outclassing conventional methods, which rely on activity measurements or time and equipment intensive analyses of saliva and blood samples by saving time and money.
For evaluation and comparison with current research results, the company has built up a knowledge database with scientific and clinical chronobiological studies. Based on the information about the individual chronotype, the test persons receive recommendations for suitable times for sleeping, eating, working as well as for leisure activities. Supplemented with coaching offers from the team, which consists of scientists and health experts, this can help to bring the "internal clock" back into balance.
The Patent and Standards Centre wishes you alert ideas!