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NASA hopes medical implant can curb astronaut muscle loss

By Shawn Knight ยท 24 replies
Feb 8, 2018
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  1. Freeing one’s self from the grips of Earth’s gravity may sound liberating but as astronauts regularly attest to, life in microgravity isn’t as peachy as it sounds. Even when devoting at least one hour each day to exercise, astronauts typically require months of physiotherapy following an extended stint on the International Space Station (ISS).

    Muscle loss isn’t a major concern for astronauts right now but that will change when it comes time to send the first humans to Mars which is why NASA is already hard at work on a possible fix.

    One potential solution NASA is working on involves a medication called Formoterol which is used to manage ailments like asthma and COPD by relaxing muscles in the airway.

    As part of an experiment called Rodent Research-6 (RR-6), NASA in December sent two groups of 20 mice with medical implants to the ISS. One group came home in January with the other group due back sometime this month. The implant is a nanochannel drug delivery chip that administers Formoterol. NASA wants to see if the medicine – and the implant – could be used on humans to help with muscle loss during lengthy periods in microgravity.

    Should the implant prove successful, it could also be used here on Earth to treat all sorts of conditions and administer medication in a smooth and continuous manner, thus avoiding spikes in dosage that could lead to unwanted side effects. It would also be convenient to not have to remember to take medication.

    The device hasn’t yet been approved by the Federal Drug Administration so it’ll likely be quite a while before it is tested on humans.

    Second photo via Dmitry Lovetsky, Getty Images

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,431   +2,888

    It will be a necessity if Musk plans to send people to Mars .... crawling around on the red planet would be so much of a buzz kill!
  3. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,070   +1,548

    Mars gravity is 1 to 2.64 that of Earth. Loss of muscle mass is a bigger problem than just what it causes in terms of mobility. Months of PT to rebuild that muscle mass does not sound like fun. It is not that easy to build muscle in the first place.

    This is another factor that makes me think Musk is rather inebriated if he thinks that he is going to get someone to Mars, safely, by 2022 or so. As I see it, if one thinks of humanity going to Mars as a problem, it is very complicated and involves factors well beyond just having a rocket that is capable of safely reaching Mars.
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  4. Ean Mogg

    Ean Mogg TS Enthusiast Posts: 90   +40

    Why don't the have two sleeping racks facing each other and spinning on a central pole between them that would give them the g force to makeup for some of their bone loss through lack of gravity ^_~
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  5. Ean Mogg

    Ean Mogg TS Enthusiast Posts: 90   +40

    Why o why do we need to go to Mars??? there's nothing there? go to the moon instead ..learn from all your mistakes on the moon first.. Sigh and there's no hope in successfully terraforming Mars anyway no matter who says it ..unless we invent a planetary magnetosphere ...
    JaredTheDragon and Uncle Al like this.
  6. Maxwell Jenner

    Maxwell Jenner TS Rookie

    When are we going to get it that Humans aren't meant to do space travel? We weren't designed for it. Our natural habitat is Earth, if we can't exist somewhere else without serious life support, special suits etc etc, whats the point?
    hk2000 likes this.
  7. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,192   +2,428

    Humans weren't meant to fly either yet look how far aeronautics has advanced. The point of going to space? To harvest an infinite amount of resources, to ensure the survival of the human race, to expand our territory, and to advance science. They are a billion reasons to go to space and only 1 not to go. "It's hard" sounds like an excuse for those without determination.
    Tanstar and Bubbajim like this.
  8. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 309   +156

    Sending humans to Mars would be incredibly cruel. Muscle loss is only one of the problems, and probably not the worst. Half a lifetime's exposure to ionizing radiation. Vision loss. Two year incarceration in close quarters with other people. No fresh air or sunshine. Incredible tedium. Bone loss. Other factors that I've probably forgotten.

    Aerospace contractors love the thought of Mars travel for the big bonanza, and their biggest subservients now control the government. The public would quickly lose interest in it -- an endless rocky desert does not great viewing make.

    I'd be in favor of a manned mission to Mars if the trip can be made in three days. Three days out, a week there, and three days back. Don't say it's impossible -- where's the old NASA spirit? Patience for a couple of decades while faster drives are developed. Then an entertaining, albeit silly, spectacle for the public to enjoy. And the faster drives may actually have a practical value.
    Uncle Al likes this.
  9. trparky

    trparky TS Evangelist Posts: 379   +264

    Why should we go to Mars? Simple... We need to. Why? Because to ensure that the human race will survive past us blowing ourselves up. With the rate we're going we're going to have a Third World War soon and we need to ensure that humanity will survive that even if it means somewhere else.
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 10,797   +4,604

    You are lumping the billion reasons not to go, all into one reason. That makes your evaluation biased. I could do the very same thing with all the reasons one might want to go, all because I'm biased on the other side of the fence.
    Boilerhog146 likes this.
  11. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 820   +334

    With all the time we have spent in LEO I am pretty amazed we haven't worked on artificial gravity systems for people deployed in space. Whether sitting in that or doing your workouts there for a few hours a day would prob help mitigate the muscle loss and bone issues. Space X might be shooting for Mars but everyone else is focused on the moon, another international space station in lunar orbit, a shuttle that moves between the ISS and LISS, and after enough time lunar bases for testing tech. From there NASA seems more interested in asteroids (natural resources) and Europa (Life?) than mars.
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 10,797   +4,604

    I don't understand why everyone is focused on landing on the Moon or Mars. Artificial gravity would be much easier to achieve on a space station. If a planet or moon cannot be terraformed, it will never be suitable for life. And without gravity, there is no point in trying to terraform. If we must go into space our time would be better spent conditioning a station to match living conditions on Earth.
    Boilerhog146 likes this.
  13. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 820   +334

    Well one of the benefits of going onto those unterraformable planets is to get goods to do small terraforms, you can get the basic elements you need to create air and water from them, doing that in a space station would be more difficult.
  14. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 10,797   +4,604

    There are locations on Earth we can't terraform and we want to try elsewhere without an atmosphere or gravity. I don't know whether I'm laughing or getting sick at the concept.
  15. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,070   +1,548

    Fortunately, I read something the other day that makes me think that Musk might have at least one brain cell - he stated something about going to the Moon before Mars.
    We also were not meant to swim, either and look how far we have come with that, too. ;)

    I have no problems with most of your reasons, however, when it comes to expanding our territory, I hope humanity finds a way to do so without infringing on the territories of other civilizations for any reason or in any fashion - although this aspect of space exploration is a long way off given humanity's current technology.

    IF there is any merit to the idea that extra-terrestrial civilizations have been visiting Earth for millennia and those visits are behind various organized religions, I look at the resulting insanity by fanatics of all organized religions and wonder what the Earth might be like if we were left to develop on our own.

    Plus, with planets now discovered in other galaxies, that pushes up the probability of life elsewhere as computed by Drake's equation. And with a greater probability of life elsewhere in the universe, we might just encounter a civilization millions or billions of years older than our own, not know it, and pay a dear price for encroaching on their territory and trying to claim it for humanity.

    [EDIT] Here's the link for the discovery of planets in other galaxies for those interested - https://phys.org/news/2018-02-astrophysicists-planets-extragalactic-galaxies-microlensing.html

    Without viable means to ensure basic human needs, especially food, are met, if humanity destroys itself, any settlements within the solar system are likely to collapse because they will be dependent on Earth for survival. Even if there are viable means to survive, my bet is that settlements in the solar system will fail at some point if humanity destroys civilization on Earth. It will be a long, long time before settlements in the solar system are anywhere near the level of industrialization that Earth is - and thus, without Earth, living in a settlement in the solar system would be much like living in the stone age yet on a planet that which is inherently incapable of supporting human life.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  16. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,070   +1,548

    Terraforming a planet would not be a trivial matter - even if we could do it. If everything about the planet is not "just right", terraforming would wear off.
    hk2000 likes this.
  17. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,192   +2,428

    Oh, you're right. I forget to add to the reasons not to go "might get probed".

    Aside from the hill to climb over, there isn't much reason we shouldn't.
  18. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,070   +1,548

    Unfortunately, terraforming an unterraformable planet, in any amount, would not stick since the reason that a planet would be unterraformable is due to the laws of physics. There could be any number of reasons that a planet would be unterraformable - too small, too close to a star, too far from a star, too big, rotational period too short or long, no magnetic field, and other reasons, too.

    If humanity expects to terraform a planet for long-term habitation without having to perpetually terraform the planet to make up for the loss of habitable environment, the planet would have to be "just right" or a Goldilocks planet. Terraforming may make for great science fiction, but making that fiction real is a challenging task.
    Boilerhog146 likes this.
  19. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 617   +217

    If we can't get past the Capitalistic greed ,that runs this planet ,and if we don't learn to get along here.we are not going anywhere. PERIOD.

    we should do it to the moon first. if it can't be done right there .it can't be done anywhere.

    I can see Dr Ho makin a name for himself here. adding one of his complete kits into the space suit or making a complete suit ,that can exercise any muscle in the body when ever time allots.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
  20. Ean Mogg

    Ean Mogg TS Enthusiast Posts: 90   +40

    How can they go to Mars when the money is in the Asteroid belt ..MONEY, MONEY, MONEY pay for flying out that far and leave a lot over for investors ..
  21. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 820   +334

    You would have like a "base" out near the belt if you had colony's, space stations on/around mars. They also belive Mar's has a decent amount of resources we can get.
  22. hk2000

    hk2000 TS Enthusiast Posts: 38   +17

    The space exploration program of NASA is akin to the humans of the stone age discovering they can float on a driftwood and deciding to use it to explore the ocean!
  23. Ean Mogg

    Ean Mogg TS Enthusiast Posts: 90   +40

    And there's no one mentioned the spinning space station idea don't have to make it round all it has to be is a dodecagon or even simpler heptagon straight bits of tube shot into space could make a rudimentary space station with tubes and send that between Mars and Earth orbiting at the same speed as Earth so if we go to Mars or the Asteroid belt it will be there waiting for us and invent foam with lead dust in it for protection ..so many ideas not enough time lol.
  24. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 10,797   +4,604

    I didn't spell it out but that is what I was referring to by artificial gravity.
  25. Ean Mogg

    Ean Mogg TS Enthusiast Posts: 90   +40

    Sorry artificial is artificial like off Star Trek a Spinning Space Station creates its own gravity in the act of spinning but I didn't read your comment sorry my bad ^_~

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