The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three prominent US scientists who discovered the gene and molecular mechanisms controlling the biological clock in Drosophila.
NARO is also pursuing research on the biological clock, also known as circadian clock, a molecular mechanism that results in a cyclical rhythm in living organism such as the human sleep-wake cycle or body clock. Dr. Hideaki Oike, Senior Researcher of the Food Function Division of Food Research Institute, NARO (NFRI) is studying the relationship between food ingredients and the biological clock. Although the results were obtained from cell and animal experiments, this research revealed that the biological clock can be regulated with daily intake of food ingredients such as salt, coffee etc., the importance of nutritional balance at breakfast for resetting the body clock, and the induction of obesity due to irregular meal time. He received the "Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Young Researcher Award" for FY2017 (13th) from the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research Council (AFFRC) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) for this research.
In the future Dr. Oike aims to determine the relationship between various functional ingredients and biological clock, and to clarify the effectiveness of various timings such as in morning or night in consumption of foods with functional ingredients, and eventually to contribute to the improvement of human health. Dr Oike is also active as a secretary of the "Chrono-nutritional Science Association" (established in 2014) focusing on studies of the relationship between biological clock and diet.
Dr. Michael Young who is one of the three Nobel Prize recipients visited Japan eight years ago. During that visit Dr. Oike explained about his research results regarding the change in biological clock with a high salt diet. At that time, there was no report yet in the world that the biological clock could be changed by specific dietary ingredients and Dr. Young was impressed with his research.