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Biotech Space Science

Spaceworms To Help Study Astronaut Muscle Loss 73

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that 4,000 microscopic worms were onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis when it launched today. Their mission: to help experts in human physiology understand more about what triggers the body to build and lose muscle. The worms are bound for the Japanese Experiment Module 'Kibo' on the International Space Station, where they will experience the same weightless conditions which can cause dramatic muscle loss, one of the major health concerns for astronauts. 'If we can identify what causes the body to react in certain ways in space we establish new pathways for research back on earth,' says Dr. Nathaniel Szewczyk."
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Spaceworms To Help Study Astronaut Muscle Loss

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  • muscle loss (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 19, 2009 @05:54AM (#30154254)

    Why don't we just give steroids to the astronauts, that should help them a bit with the muscle loss problem.

  • Surprisingly fast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @06:10AM (#30154320) Homepage Journal

    I broke my right arm in a cycling accident on the 30th of july. The arm was pretty much immobilised for two months. To this day I still can't lift my right elbow above the level of my shoulder. The muscles in that arm are gone. Hard to think what shape I would be in if I spent six months on the ISS.

  • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @06:43AM (#30154442) Homepage
    Why do we need to conduct an experiement to determine whether space travel can muscles to atrophy? Common sense tells us that muscles in space will certainly atrophy.

    We see this atrophy in hospital patients who are confined to bed for years in a coma. These patients never exercise their muscles, and they simply atrophy. Being in space is worse than being in bed. Lack of gravity means that your muscles are not constantly being exercised. Your muscles will waste away.

    The fix for this problem is to use only astronauts who have a natural genetic mutation [] that causes muscles to be large, durable, and strong. A few Europeans do have this mutation.

    Perhaps, Khan -- the character in Star Trek -- was right. A race of genetic supermen is best suited for space travel.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright