'Mighty mice' stay musclebound in space, boon for astronauts
An update on some muscular mice who spent a month on the international space station. NPR's John Hamilton reports that these mouse tre knots were part of an experiment that may show how humans can stay strong during interplanetary voyages. Without Earth's gravity, muscles and bones could get weak fast. So astronauts on the space station spend two hours a day exercising. Back in April. Jessica mere, Andrew Morgan even made a weightless workout video. This next exercise is cardiovascular exercise with T two treadmill to Bundy's. My Artists are holding me against the treadmill. Pretty fun to have an extra spring in your step. Intense exercise reduces bone and muscle laws but doesn't stop it, and that's a problem if you're headed for, say, Mars. So in December, researchers set some very special mice into orbit. Some of the mice were just along for the ride. Others got injections of a drug that in activates two substances that occur naturally in the body. They're called myostatin and active in a and normally their job is to limit the growth of muscle and bone. Dr Se Jin Lee of the Jackson Laboratory says when they reached the space station, all the mice got lots of exercise. Once they get up there, they've become very active, and in fact, they have a name for race tracking because they're you know, running around quite a bit. After a month in orbit, the mice splashed down off the California coast and were rushed to a lab in San Diego. Lee says normal mice that did not receive any treatment lost more than 10% of their muscle mass. And he says bone loss was an even bigger problem. They lost a substantial not a bone in space. And then even after being on Earth. They actually continue to lose a little bit more bone mass. Lee says the mice that got the drug did much better. The drug was effective, not just in preserving the mussel mess and bone mess that was being lost. But actually caused the muscles and bones to grow. The drug also reversed muscle and bone loss in mice that got it after they return to Earth. Dr. Emily Jermain Lee of the University of Connecticut, says a human version of the drug could help both astronauts in space and millions of people on Earth. That would be a miracle. For a person, either with primary bone disease, primary muscle disease or a combination. But Jermain Lee, who is married to Se Jin Lee cautions that so far the treatment has on Lee worked in mice. They had a phenomenal response to the drug without apparently any bad side effects. That's Not necessarily something that we could extrapolated to humans, but she's hopeful and says experiments on people are underway. The research appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.