Space mice

Research using mice, on the International Space Station (ISS), could help tackle the major health challenges for astronauts during prolonged space travel as well as a range of conditions found on Earth.

In space, astronauts suffer progressive bone loss and muscle wastage and by targeting the molecular signalling proteins, Myostatin and activin A, that influence muscle degradation, the research team from the Jackson Laboratory, UConn Health, and Connecticut Children’s, all USA, hoped to reduce the effects of zero gravity on the human body.

The team found that wild type mice, sent to the orbiting laboratory, suffered significant muscle and bone mass loss unless treated with the drug to inhibit the molecular signalling. They also found that the genetically altered mice, which lacked the myostatin gene, maintained their increased muscle mass in microgravity.

Dr Michael Roberts, of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the ISS National Lab, said: “This investigation again shows the power of space-based research to accelerate the pace of biomedical discovery for those living on Earth.”

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