NASA Scientists Set New Approach to Maintain Muscle Mass in Space

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Belgian Blue bulls look like they are made of muscle because they have a mutation in the gene that codes for the protein myostatin. In humans, as in other types of cattle, myostatin normally limits the number of muscle fibers that form before birth and then limits the growth of those fibers later on.

One of the most indicative and difficult questions in terms of the implementation of maintaining the health of astronauts is the question of developing the correct regime of life and nutrition in order to deal with active loss of muscle mass as efficiently as possible, which quite often happens on board the ISS and in space in principle. Of course, at this point in time, absolutely all space missions use a set of special exercises aimed at maintaining the muscle mass of astronauts at the proper level, but today the NASA research team presented the results of one interesting project in this area.

The fact is that earlier the attention of the research team was focused on the study and analysis of the so-called MSTN protein or myostatin, as it is called in medicine – this protein is a special regulator of muscle mass, which, on the one hand, does not allow it to grow and develop uncontrollably, and on the other hand actively invests in its growth. Under normal terrestrial conditions, it works as it should, however, in space, everything takes on a slightly more problematic shade.

That is why NASA specialists previously launched 40 experimental mice into space aboard a SpaceX-19 rocket, which were subsequently observed and received various inhibitors that regulate the production of this protein. Upon the return of the mice to Earth, scientists were able to identify the most promising candidate inhibitor in the person of ACVR2B / Fc, which allowed the mice to retain 18% more muscle mass compared to those mice that received other inhibitors.

It is worth noting that blocking myostatin, for its part, also represents a rather promising approach to accomplishing the task of maintaining muscle mass in space – however, this result is only achieved in combination with third-party chemicals. Be that as it may, at this point in time, it remains only to wait for the continuation of the study, which will most likely offer conceptually different approaches to maintaining a large amount of muscle mass in space.

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