In preparation for the commercialization of space travel, researchers have conducted a study aimed at reducing or completely preventing muscle loss that astronauts encounter. According to the researchers, the study can help solve one of the most common physical problems that astronauts encounter during extended missions in space.

Being weightless in space has been identified as the leading cause of muscle atrophy for astronauts. With NASA and other international agencies looking to commercialize space travel for tourists, the need to resolve the issue of muscle loss related to weightlessness has increased.

Fortunately, researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have identified key factors that can prevent muscle atrophy in space. The findings of their study were published in the scientific journal PLOS One.

For their study, the researchers simulated space conditions experienced by astronauts by subjecting 24 healthy male participants to 70 days of bed rest. Some of the participants followed a regular exercise regimen and were given either testosterone supplements or a placebo.

The other participants, on the other hand, did not exercise and were not given supplements. They only remained in bed rest for the duration of the experiment.

As expected, the group that exercised daily and took testosterone supplements displayed positive changes in their muscle protein than those who only took placebos and the participants who didn’t exercise at all.

According to the researchers, the combination of exercise and supplements was able to counter the effects of extended bed rest on the muscles.

“The unique insights we’ve gained on muscle proteins during extended bed rest could someday be applied to changes to muscle mass/strength in various situations and then develop a personalized program of exercises and hormonal countermeasures,” the study’s lead author E. Lichar Dillon said in a statement.

Aside from combating muscle atrophy, the researchers also noted that they were able to identify certain factors that indicate how each individual’s muscles would react to space or similar conditions. This finding is vital in coming up with solutions to prevent ordinary citizens from experiencing muscle loss during commercial space trips.

“The study has given us the ability to identify biomarkers that predict how susceptible each individual is to muscle function decline and how effectively different exercise and hormone treatments can combat the atrophy,” researcher Randall Urban explained.

Astronaut in space
The DNA of NASA astronaut Scott Kelly no longer matches his twin's after spending a year in space. WikiImages/Pixabay