Expedition 34′s Chris Hadfield (left) and Tom Marshburn will be the latest astronauts to perform Canadian aging research in space. CREDIT: NASA

Astronaut Research Holds Promise for Aging Treatments on the Ground

by Elizabeth Howell, SPACE Contributor
Date: 18 December 2012 Time: 01:36 PM ET

Soft bones. A risk of fainting. Hardened arteries.

These conditions are risks for any space traveler, but they’re also problems facing many seniors living on Earth.

To accelerate scientists’ understanding of how the body ages, Canada’s leading space and health agencies are pooling money and researchers, and plan to showcase the results of the research internationally.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will work with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to examine the medical issues associated with spaceflight and connect them to issues facing regular people on the ground. While researchers have investigated these topics for years, this new effort represents the first inter-agency formal step for Canada. The goal is to develop treatment for Earth-bound seniors.

First spearheaded by the CSA’s Nicole Buckley, chief scientist for life sciences, the partnership produced a national workshop in June. In the next couple of years, the Canadians plan to host an international working group to bring in research from NASA, the Japanese Space Agency and other government space stakeholders.

Despite the initiative’s youth, Buckley said the CIHR is excited about gaining more access to the station’s orbital laboratory, where health research is performed by space residents.

“There’s increasing interest in the whole process of aging — pretty soon, we’re all going to be there — and we have this great resource in space that can complement terrestrial research. Why have it in two separate [research] areas?” said Buckley.

Read more: Astronaut Research Holds Promise for Aging Treatments on the Ground | Space.

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