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Can a drug help you adjust better to shift work? New research suggests that it can.

Workers in shift-based jobs often must contend with fatigue and drowsiness. Now researchers at Notre Dame say they have found a gene and protein that limits the ability of the internal clock to deal with changes in the light-dark cycle. A future drug may be able to affect that protein and thus help people get used to rotating shifts.

Workplace safety advocates have long been concerned about the effects of rotational shifts on workers. Drowsiness and fatigue not only contribute to workplace accidents, but also make workers susceptible to dozing off while driving home. Shift-based workers are also likely to report disorientation, confusion, extreme fatigue and lethargy.

A worker with these symptoms could be at a risk of serious injury while working with heavy machinery and equipment or operating a motor vehicle on the job.

The Notre Dame researchers based their study on lab mice. When the protein was blocked, the animals were able to adjust much faster to circadian rhythm changes.

Michael Parsons is an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer representing injured workers in the metro Atlanta region and helping them recover the workers’ compensation benefits that they have earned.