The researchers think they could use this knowledge to improve surgery.
Some drugs, such as the steroid cortisol, can reset an individual cell’s body clock and may be helpful in night-time procedures.
And everybody’s body clock runs to a slightly different pattern or “chronotype”.
So, it might make sense to schedule operations to keep in time with the patients’ 24-hour “circadian rhythms”.
Both ideas are still untested, though.
Dr John Blaikley, a clinician scientist at the University of Manchester, said: “Treatment of wounds costs the NHS around £5bn, which is partly due to a lack of effective therapies targeting wound closure.
“By taking these [circadian factors] into account, not only could novel drug targets be identified, but also the effectiveness of established therapies might be increased through changing what time of day they are given.”