NASA Tests Drug to Reduce Muscle Loss in Astronauts

first_imgStay on target NASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This WeekendHubble Captures Saturn’s ‘Phonograph Record’ Ring System Floating around the cosmos sounds like a great time. But exposure to weightlessness comes with potentially dangerous side effects.While living and working in a gravity-defying environment (space, for example), very little muscle contraction is required for support or movement.Without regular use and exercise, our muscles weaken and deteriorate: Astronauts experience up to a 20 percent loss of muscle mass on flights lasting five to 11 days.AdChoices广告Now imagine spending six months in space. Watching a cosmonaut try to walk upon return to Earth is like seeing a newborn giraffe take its first unsteady steps.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, however, is working on a solution.A medication meant to reduce muscle deterioration is already being tested on the International Space Station.Forty mice, implanted with a chip that automatically delivers the drug, were shipped off in December aboard a Dragon spacecraft.The Rodent Research-6 (RR-6) mission injects the experimental mice with formoterol (FMT)—primarily used in the management of asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).“Long-term space travel requires therapies and strategies for maintaining healthy body structure in the absence of gravity,” according to NASA. “RR-6 advances understanding of both drugs and drug delivery systems that can address muscle loss during long space journeys.”Half the rodents live on the ISS for 30 days, the other half for 60 days. They are then brought home to be euthanized and dissected; tissue samples are harvested for further study.“Because mice are genetically very similar to humans, successful trials in mice generate critical information for therapies that can work for humans,” the Administration said.This experiment is especially pertinent ahead of proposed trips to Mars: A months-long voyage to the Red Planet could weaken folks to the point of vulnerability when performing strenuous tasks.Astronauts on the ISS currently spend 2.5 hours a day exercising, in an effort to combat the effects of muscle atrophy.RR-6 also has implications for ground-based muscle-related diseases, disorders, and injuries.“Studying accelerated muscle wasting in space,” NASA said, “provides insight into disease mechanisms, confirms potential new drug targets, and enables preclinical evaluation of candidate drugs.”center_img Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img

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