‘Mighty Mice’ Stay Mighty in Space

'Mighty Mice' Experiment Aboard ISS Yields Hopeful Results Against Bone, Muscle Loss

Lee said that 24 mice, who didn't receive the treatment, lost considerable bone and muscle mass up to 18% because of weightlessness.

Regular mice - people who carried the myostatin gene and obtained no protein-inhibiting remedies - misplaced vital muscle and bone mass through the 33 days spent in microgravity.

The 40 female mice, provided by the nonprofit Jackson Laboratory in ME, were genetically manipulated for muscle growth in an experiment to better understand how zero gravity affects the human body. NASA astronauts Drew Morgan, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, who participated in the experiment while it was on the space station, are included as authors and investigators on the study.

However, the eight genetically modified mighty mice sent into space with double their muscular dimensions maintained their bulk.

A team led by Dr Se-Jin Lee of the Jackson Laboratory added 40 young female black mice to the cargo of a SpaceX rocket sent to the ISS late past year.

For the previous 20 years, the researchers have wished to see what results blocking myostatin would have in mice despatched to house.

As well as, the scientists discovered the mice that obtained the molecule suppressing myostatin and activin A noticed dramatic will increase in each muscle and bone mass.

This graphic exhibits how efficient the remedies had been at mitigating the bone loss that mice expertise in microgravity, with micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) photographs of femurs and vertebrae of mice that obtained or didn't obtain the therapy, each on Earth and on the Worldwide Area Station. Now, it looks like genetically engineered space mice may get us closer to a solution. And could an inhibitor of MSTN function help even normal, wild-type mice retain their muscle mass in space?

The treatment dramatically increases the animals' muscular structure when they returned to Earth. Both are affiliated with the University of CT.


"They lost a substantial amount of bone in space and then even after being on earth, they actually continued to lose a little bit more bone mass", Lee says.

The mice "had a phenomenal response to the drug without apparently any bad side effects", adds Dr. Emily Germain-Lee, a professor at the University of CT who is a co-author of the paper and married to Lee.

A file photo of an astronaut exercising aboard the International Space Station.

The exercise countermeasures astronauts use, which include two hours of resistance training and cardiovascular workouts, may not always be possible during long-term spaceflight.

"Although myostatin's major role is to regulate muscle growth, a drug that targets other hormones besides just myostatin can affect other tissues besides muscle", the researchers said.

The study has revealed new questions for the researchers.

Despite the positive results uncovered by the team, it is worth noting that additional work is required before a version of the drug could be approved for trials involving humans, especially since the risk of side effects has to be taken into consideration. Going forward, they want to better understand the changes caused by microgravity in blood, muscle and bone.

"Our hope is that this could be used both for astronauts during extended space travel and for people on Earth suffering from muscle and bone loss", the doctors said.

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