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Japan Medicine NASA Space Science

Osteoporosis Drug Makes Lengthy Space Trips More Tolerable 42

Posted by timothy
from the get-your-bones-to-mars dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Japanese researchers have discovered that by taking drugs normally targeted at osteoporosis sufferers they can mitigate the long term effects of weightlessness. This makes it more possible that humans could reasonably fly to Mars land there and be fully functional even after the lengthy journey." JAXA provides much more detail, including interviews with both lead investigator Toshio Matsumoto and Koichi Wakata, the first subject of the experiment.
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Osteoporosis Drug Makes Lengthy Space Trips More Tolerable

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @10:16AM (#38279176)

    Well, one problem down, about a million to go.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Using up Oxygen is a non-problem, because it's not exactly used up, just placed in another form, converting it back is a well understood chemical process that can be done by any number of mechanisms.

      Or just carry plenty along, depending on which is the better choice for mass.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by elrous0 (869638) *

        the better choice for mass

        Well there is the *real* problem--mass. Food, water, radiation shielding, fuel--that all takes up a lot of mass too. If only Mars were in LEO.

        • by Galestar (1473827)
          Using up Food is a non-problem, because it's not exactly used up, just placed in another form, converting it back is a well understood chemical process that can be done by any number of mechanisms - (As long as you don't mind the taste.)
          • Greenhouses, gotcha. And other crew members, if you really crave a steak. ^_^

            The one thing that bothers me about using recycled waste to create more food is the problem of parasites. If one person has it, soon everyone will. Though thoroughly cooking the food might work, I still have some doubts for certain types of cysts / eggs. Microwaves do not work on some of them.

            I think I'd pass everything through a blowtorch before using it with the plants. Or perhaps through the ship's engines.

            • Damnit guys, you undercooked [rackcdn.com] the food again!

            • by pgpalmer (2015142)

              I think I'd pass everything through a blowtorch before using it with the plants. Or perhaps through the ship's engines.

              That's one way to stop tail-gating space vessels, I suppose.

      • by TWX (665546) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @10:31AM (#38279324)

        Using up Oxygen is a non-problem, because it's not exactly used up, just placed in another form, converting it back is a well understood chemical process that can be done by any number of mechanisms.

        Or just carry plenty along, depending on which is the better choice for mass.

        Probably some of both. I would expect that such a mission would have an insane number of redundancies, and there's no reason at that point to not include some new tech when there's old safeguard redundancies there. If anything they'll use tech developed for the space station, which doesn't exactly have an umbilical running back to the atmosphere- yes they get resupplied by the Shuttle^H^H^H^H^H^H^HRussians periodically, but they have to go a long time without fresh air being delivered...

        • Hmm. I always wondered about that.

          At some point, with all the things that can go wrong, with a need for replacement parts, you might need to fit a ship with a machine room, so you can fabricate the parts on site. You would also need another room(s) for storing the resources to be used in the machine room. And people intelligent and well trained enough to be able to use those machine. I can understand why the training for astronauts was so rigorous (fixing a breadboard while spinning, that sort of thing).

          Of

      • by Riceballsan (816702) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @10:32AM (#38279332)
        Indeed removing CO2 is the harder part, though that also can be done and has been done, hence part of why we aren't sending weekly oxygen shipments to the international space station, our bigger problems are still navigating, fuel, Surviving cabin fever etc.. Really I don't think landing a man on mars is really that far out of our technological level, we just lack a cold war or anything to really justify the spending and effort needed to make a government invest heavily in it.
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      Well, one problem down, about a million to go.

      If you really want to make lengthy space travel more tolerable, you've got to perfect a sex-robot that looks exactly like Olivia Wilde.

      You could just go ahead and send Olivia Wilde, but then you have to bring the extra food and water and listen to her complain and stuff. What you want is sort of a cross between a Sony QRIO and a Real Doll, except it has to look exactly like Olivia Wilde.

      The good news is that you don't need much battery power. As long as it can

      • After a year in space, a grapefruit looks like Olivia Wilde. (Should I revise that to a week in space?)
        • I posted that not knowing exactly who Olivia Wilde was (trying to be quick and snarky). So I googled her... My Baby is prettier and I don't have to deal with all the actress ego bs. (I also assumed OW was that chick that used to be on G4, but I was wrong again. Rather be stuck with her, plus she likes hardware).
          • by tmarsh86 (896458)
            If you googled her then you should know that she is not that G4 chick- which is Olivia Munn. Olivia Wilde is an actress and was just in Cowboys & Aliens and Tron: Legacy. And if you had seen the movie- and the posters of her- you would know that your baby is not anything like her.
            • Thanks to AC below.

              Next time I'll take the time to put html into my post to make it more legible.

              Sometimes I get into a hurry.

              My Baby is very pretty and I don't just say that because I'm her slave. And if I showed you a photo of her, you may disagree. But that's the great thing about choice and preference. Now I'm not saying OW is not great and all, I just prefer my Baby over her. You shouldn't be offended that we do not share the same tastes. After all, some men prefer blondes...
  • This makes it more possible that humans could reasonably fly to Mars land there and be fully functional even after the lengthy journey.

    Drugs or no drugs your arms would be pretty tired.

  • Somebody needs to let Tasha Yar know about that.

  • This is interesting and just points to how we're not suited, naturally, to space.
  • Bisphosphonates maintain bones' density but not living bone tissue and structural integrity. Look up "fossy jaw". It's like comparing a chalk deposit to a living coral reef.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphosphonate#Adverse_effects [wikipedia.org]

    I'd be very curious to hear about the side effects of using these medications in space. Grandma had plenty of difficulty using them here on earth...

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphosphonate#Adverse_effects [wikipedia.org]

      I'd be very curious to hear about the side effects of using these medications in space. Grandma had plenty of difficulty using them here on earth...

      This is why I thought Strontium [wikipedia.org] would be the better choice.

      • Strontium versus Biphosphonate (Fosamax)
        My excellent other half has been taking strontium citrate for a year now and her mild cervical osteoporosis (and her tooth strength) have improved immensely.
        In Australia the rules for receiving subsidised prescription osteoporosis medicines are that you need to be over 71 yo and have had a osteoporotic fracture!

        The prescriptions are all for patented medicines: Strontium is available as Strontium ranelate (the ranelic acid part does little more than allow the manufactu

    • Postmenopausal women lose bones because they don't produce nearly as much progesterone as they used to, while they still produce some 40-60% of the estrogen they used to make. "Hormone Replacement Therapy" poisoned women by supplementing estrogen and a fake progesterone, Provera, which the body is unable to convert into other hormones [wikipedia.org].

      Supplementing progesterone is a much better bone-salvager than bisphosphonates, but natural hormones can't get patented. Furthermore, you don't need a prescription for progest

  • Wrong approach (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheLink (130905) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @02:03PM (#38282448) Journal
    Using this sort of drugs for space trips is silly. If you want to _stay_ in space, build space stations or space craft that have artificial "gravity", not mess about with crap like this.

    Artificial gravity is not an impossible problem - tethers and counterweights, docking at centre of mass. Plenty of options.

    The big problem I see is adequate and cost effective radiation shielding. Once you solve radiation shielding and artificial gravity, you no longer need to "rush" to Mars before you rot or get irradiated to death.

    If you don't solve these two problems first, trying to go to Mars or having long space trips is like a baby trying to jump before it is able to stand or walk. A waste of time and resources, and a bad idea.
  • I'm pretty sure I've seen this one before...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kite_Liberator [wikipedia.org]

    "Doi had been researching various methods of preserving bone mass in zero gravity conditions, leading to healthy but frequently unappetizing food... when it is found that Noguchi and another crew member have space radiation exposure and abnormally increased bone volume during a periodic medical check-up, Doi strangely questions the safety of his food, hinting that there may be more going on that is apparent...Orudo and th

  • So their solution to off-setting the effects of weightlessness is to take medications? I always thought that the problem could always be avoided by using the method of rotating a vessel to provide "gravity" around the outer edge.

Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis. It makes sense, when you don't think about it.

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