A sojourn in space is a great way to ruin one’s physique — the microgravity results in dramatic loss of muscle mass. Residents of the International Space Station exercise regularly to stave off the atrophy, but perhaps there’s another way. Scientists have now found that if they treat spacefaring mice with a particular molecule, the animals not only maintain their muscles, they even bulk up a bit.
The treatment also preserved and boosted bone density, another problem in microgravity, researchers reported September 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The work has implications not just for astronauts eyeing trips to the moon or Mars, but also for earthbound people struggling with muscle loss due to age, injury or illness. Potential medications springing from this research might benefit people who are bedridden or in a wheelchair, as well as people with cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other causes of muscle wasting, says study author Se-Jin Lee, a geneticist at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut. “There are so many possible indications.”
Lee has longed to send his mice to space for decades. Back in the 1990s, he eliminated a gene called myostatin from mice. The myostatin protein normally blocks muscle growth, so…
Space, NASA, Micro-g environment, Research
World news – US – Molecular Medicine Keeps Mice Mighty in Microgravity | The Union Journal