The solution to your health problem will come from space

Last March, while describing the splashdown of some of the astronauts, a NASA spokesperson noted that they had spent six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Conducting more than 200 clinical trials indicates how promising the space is in finding life-saving answers.

Health research in space began nearly 24 years ago, from the moment the first man was sent to the ISS, with a basic, simple goal: “Ensuring the Health of Astronauts in a Remote, Strange and Stressful Environment”Angelique Van Ombergen, biomedical researcher at the European Space Agency (ESA), explains to EFE.


‘Gold’ for medical research “It is essential to understand what happens to the human body and mind in space to guarantee the safety of astronauts in an environment that has a high impact due to microgravity, radiation or lack of contact with your loved ones,” he continues.

After the first trips, LScientists have realized that astronauts are ideal subjects for medical research, as few humans are subjected to such thorough surveillance 24 hours a day. and astronauts: before, during and after each mission.

“The medical monitoring of astronauts and all the data it generates is gold for medical research. Monitoring a person’s health is almost impossible in the real world,” the ESA researcher underlines.

Understanding Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

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Solve one of the challenges faced by astronauts in space: 1 to 2% bone density loss per month due to microgravityFor example, it helped to understand and find solutions to osteoporosis, which reduces the quality of life of millions of people.

In osteoporosis, in particular, space research shows that the acidity of the body accelerates the loss of bone mass and can be countered by taking less salt or bicarbonate for the design of a combination that protects against bone and bone muscle mass and even stimulates its growth.

Trials of the treatment, with mice sent to the ISS as part of ESA’s ‘Mighty Mice in Space’ research, indicate it could be used to prevent and treat bone and muscle loss in people on Earth.

Beyond osteoporosis, experts agree, space research is key to answering current grand challenges in medicine, such as cancer or brain diseases.

Examples are numerous and some are close, such as the Polytechnic University of Madrid and the Spanish company Elecner, which adapted spatial image analysis techniques to brain resonance imaging for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease with the AlzTools 3D Slicer application.

Regenerative medicine

Apart from disease modeling, scientists agree that regenerative medicine will be the most promising field of health research in space in the coming years.

About A specialty based on restoring the functions of damaged tissues or organs through stem cell repairTissue engineering and organs created from biological materials or 3D bioprinting.

Stem cells play an important role as the ‘raw material’ of the body, as the rest of the cells with specialized functions are created from them, and Organoids are also being developed, 3D structures that simulate real organs and their growth to help understand and treat diseases that affect them.

“The microgravity environment of low Earth orbit is ideal for the generation of large-scale stem cells or organoids, two keys to the advancement of regenerative medicine,” explains Arun Sharma, one of the leading researchers in the field to EFE at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.

Sharma’s team, in collaboration with aerospace company Axiom, has been sending stem cells into space for a year, demonstrating that microgravity makes the production of large batches more efficient. “The production of these stem cells still has some limitations, and microgravity can overcome them because it facilitates their proliferation and potency. Our challenge is to mass-produce them in space to use them for all kinds of applications and take giant steps in medicine,” he says.

Cancer treatments

Colon cancer.

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Microgravity research on the ISS enables organoids to be created from tumor cells biopsied from patients without the need to grow them in a laboratory, as is done on Earth.

The development of these organoids provides valuable clues to researchers As Sarah Garcia has explained on several occasions, signaling pathways or potential therapies to combat the tumorigenic nature of cellsMolecular Biologist and Reserve Astronaut at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center.

These studies in space are already helping to better understand many types of cancer, from diffuse midline gliomas, which are more aggressive in children, to colon cancer, which is common.

bio production

Bioprinting of human tissue is one of the focuses of AEE clinical research, van Omburgen emphasizes.

“We recently did a study showing that microgravity has a negative effect on skin lesions. If we’re thinking about sending humans to Mars, we need to prepare them first to bioprint skin tissue in space if we want to cover the wound. “Point.

It sounds like science fiction but it’s true: the answers to saving thousands of lives on Earth already come from space.
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EFE Agency.

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