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NASA's new rodent residence elevates research to greater heights
Date:5/23/2014

ble common age-related conditions of osteoporosis and a suppressed immune system on Earth.

NASA's rodent research system development follows recommendations of the National Research Council. The U.S. Congress mandated that the National Research Council conduct an inaugural "decadal survey" of life and physical sciences research in microgravity and partial gravity and establish priorities for research for the 2010-2020 decade. In a 2011 report entitled, "Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era," the National Research Council recommended NASA establish a rodent research facility aboard the U.S. portion of the International Space Station designated as a national laboratory "as soon as possible" to enable high-priority, long-duration (six months) rodent studies.

Ultimately, researchers will use the rodent research system to conduct studies as long as half a year in duration. Because six months is approximately one-fourth to one-third of a rodent's lifespan, "studies on these rodents in space have the potential to extrapolate important implications for humans living in space well beyond six months," according to the National Research Council's report.

Since rodents develop and age much faster than humans, studying rodent model organisms accelerates the understanding of diseases that may take years or decades to develop in humans. Rodents may be studied in space during different developmental stages of life. Additionally, spaceflight rodent studies are important for developing countermeasures--procedures, drugs or devices--to protect health during spaceflight. "Studies that use different genetic strains of rodents will help researchers pinpoint the roles played by specific genes in gravity sensing and responses," said Ruth Globus, Ph.D., Rodent Research Project scientist and researcher in the Space Biosciences Division at Ames.

NASA's rodent research system benefits from decades of p
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Contact: Laura Niles
Laura.E.Niles@nasa.gov
281-244-7069
NASA/Johnson Space Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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