Traveling in space can be devastating to anyone's physique, especially microgravity that erodes muscle mass. To find out how to stave off the effects, an experiment on mice was done to find out how an experiment in space will work out.
On the International Space Station, one way to keep from losing muscle mass is by regularly exercising. Though some scientists have an innovative idea to help spacefarers who spend much time in space. Using mice in an experiment in space is treated with a molecule, which makes them add muscle, not lose it, reported Scientific American.
One of the findings onboard the ISS is that given the treatment, mice kept the same denseness of their bones. This result proved that bone density loss was lessened as a result of microgravity. This was reported on September 7 in the National Academy of Sciences.
It will be a start of experimentations that will have an impact on astronauts going to the moon or even Mars soon. This will be giving solutions that might be soon applied to astronauts on a long journey who will suffer the ill effects of microgravity caused by age, injury, or illness.
One boon from such research is getting new medicines for conditions that affect muscle mass like cancer, disabilities associated with muscles and bones, cancer with other serious problems. This was the remark of the study's lead, Se-Jin Lee, a geneticist at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Connecticut, adding there might be more indications
Lee wanted to test his hypothesis in space and get answers. In the 1990s, a gene call Myostatin which he eliminated from mice. What myostatin does is keep muscles from overdevelopment, which made him get overly muscular than normal mice. They were twice as big than untreated ones.
Last December 5, 2019, approximately 40 mice were on the SpaceX craft that launched from there in Cape Canaveral, Florida. On the rocket launch, the super mice were put to the test by staying 33 days in space. In the experiments, scientists recorded how untreated mice lost muscles. Though the treated rodents were buff in all 33 days, as predicted by Dr. Lee.
Though the Lee experiments were not geared for space travel in a longer duration like Mars. The molecule responsible for the buff rats might get NASA's interest in having gyms on space ships be impossible.
One of the reasons for choosing mice is that they are mammals like humans, and Lee can easily use them as test subjects. The results can be checked against human bone density loss too, for more studies.
Results recorded in the weightlessness of space showed that the 24 of the normal mice did lose muscle mass and bone mass to 18% in the ISS. These results were included in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, noted CBS News.
Only 8 of the lab mighty mice got treated and keep their bulk, which even doubled in space. When compared to other might mice left at the Kennedy Space Center, they had the same bulk. The Lee experiment is a success, but it needs more research.