Mars astronauts could use lettuce to fight one of the biggest threats of space | Science and Technology
|Mars astronauts could use lettuce to fight one of the biggest threats of space|
Lettuce could be used by Mars astronauts to combat one of space's most serious hazards
According to NASA's timeline, 2030 could be when humans finally take their first steps on Mars. Elon Musk's latest estimate was down a year ago, in 2029.
Whenever this happens, we know one thing for sure: Astronauts bound to Mars will have to make long journeys through space before them and be exposed to microgravity for months. These conditions would put Pioneers at risk of massive bone loss. But there may be a delicious, creepy and healthy solution.
At the American Chemical Society's spring meeting on Tuesday, scientists presented their blueprint for a new genetically modified lettuce. It's like the salad topping we know and love, but it's genetically engineered to prevent bone loss - and it can be grown in space. Eating the plant harvests video game energy and protects against microgravity threats.
"This is a very simple and affordable treatment," Karen MacDonald, a chemist at the University of California, Davis, and one of the researchers behind the plant, said in a media briefing on Tuesday.
On Earth, our bodies maintain a balance between breaking down bone minerals and repairing things so that we can always get the nutrients we need. But in microgravity, the equation loses its consistency. Bone mineral fractures can still occur, but subsequent repairs cannot continue, resulting in decreased overall bone density.
To prevent this type of bone loss from occurring in space, astronauts often exercise their spacecraft. For example, the International Space Station has a bicycle, a treadmill and a special lift. But in the new study, researchers point out that there isn't enough evidence to support exercise enough to prevent low bone density.
That's why astronauts also carry syringes of the drug mixed with so-called human parathyroid hormone, or PTH. Essentially, thyroid hormones help stimulate bone formation—but this treatment has its downsides. This is something you need to inject every day, which is not ideal. On the other hand, with the team's lettuce mix, "astronauts would need to eat about eight cups of lettuce a day to get the right dose," says Kevin Yates, a chemist at the University of California, Davis. briefing. Rich content.
To prepare lettuce for space travel
"We decided to use lettuce because lettuce is a plant born on the International Space Station," MacDonald said. "It's also a very prolific plant in terms of seed production, so the idea is that if we make a transgenic plant, one seed can produce thousands of seeds."
Unlike standard astronaut medicine, the team's genetically engineered lettuce was artificially created to contain genes associated with slight changes in gallbladder hormones. This difference is due to a combination of PTH and a protein called a human antibody-ready-to-crystal domain. FC helps improve thyroxine in the body in a number of ways.
They explained that once their synthetic genes were ready, they routinely transferred them into the lettuce genome using a simple genetic coding method, and then first planted lettuce trees with lettuce seeds, collected seeds from those trees, and then The story continues. Additionally, to ensure that PTH-Fc successfully entered the plant, they could extract the protein from the lettuce and analyze it.
"I don't think we would be able to explore deep space with a human crew without this technology," Yates said. "It's not just lettuce itself, it's part of a broader mindset where we're trying to use every resource we have at our disposal, whether it's a spacecraft, the moon or Mars."
Regardless of space exploration, the researchers stress that their findings can be applied to anyone prone to bone loss. "We need a way to make treatments easier and less expensive, and I think using plants to make treatments like PTH-Fc is very valuable in the world," Yates said.
Before reaching this point, the team emphasizes, they must first conduct many other tests, such as animal studies, clinical trials, optimizing drugs, and even determining how plants work in a space-like environment. In fact, people haven't tasted it because of the barriers of clinical science.
However, Yates said, "I hope it's a good break away from the usual savory and dry, dry foods like regular lettuce that long-haul astronauts can eat most of the time."
Source: Monisha Ravisetti, C-net, Direct News 99