Space plays havoc with your immune system

THE stress of spaceflight weakens astronauts' immunity and increases their risk of passing infections to one another. The findings diminish prospects for crewed missions to planets such as Mars, unless ways can be found to boost the astronauts' immune systems.

Satish Mehta and his colleagues at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston measured levels of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in saliva samples taken from 10 astronauts before, during and after a series of space shuttle missions. Many of us carry EBV, but it normally stays dormant in our white blood cells, and is only activated when people are stressed.

Mehta found EBV in 13 per cent of the samples, but the number of copies of the virus increased dramatically while the astronauts were in space. Samples from astronauts testing positive for EBV contained more than 40 times as many viruses during a shuttle flight than before or afterwards. "Don't kiss an astronaut," jokes Mehta.

Although EBV is normally harmless, it can cause glandular fever and has been associated with Burkitt's lymphoma, a type of cancer common in Africa. Mehta fears that other, more dangerous viruses could also be transmitted more easily by stressed astronauts. In preliminary analyses, he has already found elevated levels of cytomegalovirus in saliva samples taken on the shuttle. This virus can cause blindness in immunosuppressed people.

"When these astronauts go up, they are under huge stress, the greatest being the fear they won't come back," says Mehta. "It's crowded, cramped and tiring, and if crew members breathe out virus, it hangs around in microgravity and can easily be breathed in."

The solution might be for the astronauts to take antiviral drugs before and during missions, or to give saliva samples during the flight so that stressed crew members can be identified and told to take a break.


Contact: Claire Bowles
New Scientist

Page: 1

Related medicine news :

1. Space sentinels track desertification on Mediterranean shores
2. Space solutions for health
3. Space science joins battle against cancer
4. Space Research May Accelerate Development Of Flu-Fighting Drug
5. Small band of nurses plays key role keeping germ threats at bay
6. Infection, not lack of oxygen, plays larger role in premature infant brain injury
7. Food displays, food colors affect how much people eat
8. White blood cell plays key role in bodys excessive repair response to asthma
9. Research suggests how steroids cause diabetes and hypertension; liver plays critical role
10. Behavior plays key role in disease development and control, according to 10-year prospective review
11. Health plays a crucial role in California labor market, according to UCSF researchers

Post Your Comments:

(Date:9/17/2019)... ... ... Milwaukee-area dealership Hall Cars has hosted an annual event each fall for years in an ... Cancer,” entails that for every vehicle purchased from Sept. 17 to Nov. 14, the dealership ... days, it has also been referred to as, “50 for 50.” , Though the ...
(Date:9/17/2019)... ... September 17, 2019 , ... Dr. Jacqueline Subka ... laser dentistry . A minimally invasive approach to gum surgery, laser dentistry is ... Laser dentistry is gentle and effective because it simply uses laser light to ...
(Date:9/17/2019)... ... September 17, 2019 , ... Dr. Perry Patel, ... been certified by the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE) to administer Botox ... range of orofacial conditions such as tooth clenching and grinding, tongue tension, temporomandibular ...
(Date:9/17/2019)... , ... September 17, 2019 ... ... the October 18 "Pacifica Experience" Open House day on Pacifica's Lambert Campus, ... degree programs in Depth Psychology, the Humanities, Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and ...
(Date:9/11/2019)... ... September 11, 2019 , ... Workplace injuries cost individuals, ... solve injury risks which lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). , Starting with ... the team at Soter Analytics helps avoid ergonomic injury by coaching ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/17/2019)... ... , ... Summer is a time for barbecues, parties and picnics and lots of delicious food ... Douglas Ng, family dentist in San Luis Obispo has some tips for healthy ... popsicles and ice-filled cold drinks to go along with the hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on ...
(Date:9/17/2019)... ... 2019 , ... Dr. Babis Rammos, a renowned plastic surgeon ... Beauty Network, well known for its exclusive and luxurious lifestyle publication Haute Living ... newest addition to the Haute Beauty members-only network. , Haute Beauty offers a ...
(Date:9/14/2019)... ... September 13, 2019 , ... ... in Montreal provided a plethora of breakthrough research studies including several cancer ... to detect breast cancer, response prediction of cancer immunotherapies and whole body, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology:
Cached News: