A new experiment that involved the use of genetically enhanced mice offered positive results as the creatures maintained an athletic physique despite after a month spent in space, which is quite impressive given the gravitational conditions.
The new research could be employed for the development of solutions that could prevent muscle and bone loss in astronauts who are sent on prolonged deep space missions, with one notable example being a crewed team heading to the international space station. Some of these methods could also be used to help people who require wheelchairs or are bound to their beds.
During the first stage of the study a batch of forty young female black mice was sent to the International Space Station with the help of a SpaceX rocket. Twenty-four regular mice lost up to 18% of muscle and bone mass, as it was expected.
Eight mice which were genetically enhanced and began the journey with a double amount of muscles kept their bulk. It was also observed that eight mice who received a special treatment based on the genetic enhancements of the other mice mentioned above return to Earth with bigger muscles.
The mice returned to Earth aboard a special SpaceX capsule that landed near the coast of California earlier this year. As the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced, the researchers enjoyed the additional time, which was spent on observing the available information and formulating relevant conclusions.
Despite the positive results uncovered by the team, it is worth noting that additional work is required before a version of the drug could be approved for trials involving humans, especially since the risk of side effects has to be taken into consideration. A series of interesting molecules and pathways was also observed, and more genetically-enhanced mice could be sent into space to observe long-time effects.
The study was published in a scientific journal.