uOttawa researchers receive funding for space health research

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has announced funding for four new science experiments, which will be conducted on Earth in space-like conditions. Two of these projects, led by University of Ottawa researchers, were chosen for their relevance to health issues stemming from space travel and for the benefits they offer for life on Earth.

One project, titled Bone Marrow Changes With Long-Duration Bed Rest: Impact on Target Organ and Personalized Rehabilitation, is being led by Dr. Guy Trudel and will focus on the adverse effects of prolonged bed rest on bone marrow cell populations and their functions. The goal of the study is to optimize adaptations and rehabilitation of bone marrow in order to safely plan lengthy space missions and improve health for bedridden patients on Earth. The physiological changes that astronauts undergo in space are similar to problems related to aging, or physical inactivity due to disease or sedentary lifestyles. This study is coordinated by the European Space Agency (ESA) and will be carried out at the Institute for Space Physiology and Medicine (MEDES) in Toulouse, France.  Dr. Trudel, who is a professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, director of the Bone and Joint Research Laboratory and a rehabilitation physician at The Ottawa Hospital, is coordinating this research at the Bone and Joint Laboratory.

The second project to receive funding is being led by Dr. Bernard Jasmin, professor and Vice-Dean of Research at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine. He is the Principal Investigator of a project titled Prevention of Skeletal Muscle Deconditioning During Bed Rest With Targeted Micronutrient Supplementation, which is looking at ways of counteracting muscle atrophy as a result of stressors such as microgravity, disuse or sedentary lifestyles. A known side-effect of microgravity in space travel is skeletal muscle deconditioning, which can lead to severe mobility impairment. Currently, there are no effective therapies to prevent the loss of muscle mass in these circumstances. Thus, this research project aims to define the best protocols to counteract muscle atrophy and to understand the cellular and molecular events that control the atrophic process. The ultimate goal is to develop effective therapeutic exercises, nutritional supplementation programs, pharmacological agents and genetic countermeasures to prevent, limit, or even reverse skeletal muscle atrophy.

These projects were first selected through a European Space Agency Announcement of Opportunity, followed by an Announcement of Opportunity that assessed relevance to Canada, led by the CSA.

The research will be conducted at the Institut de Médecine et de Physiologie Spatiales (MEDES) in France. 

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