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Experiment aboard shuttle Atlantis will test novel therapy to build bone during space travel
Date:7/6/2011

medical Test Module (CBTM-3) experiment will examine whether the use of an antibody that blocks the action of the protein sclerostin can lead to gains in bone mass and thereby prevent skeletal deterioration. (The sclerostin molecule is a potent inhibitor of bone formation that is produced by osteocytes, bone cells which form a "nerve-like" network that enable the skeleton to "feel" and respond to mechanical strain.)

"This proof-of-principle study will enhance our understanding of the science behind the sclerostin antibody and arm us with important research to support potential future therapeutic applications in both astronauts and patients suffering from bone loss," notes Amgen Scientific Executive Director Chris Paszty, PhD.

Thirty mice will be flown in space, with half of the animals given a preflight injection of the sclerostin antibody and the remaining mice receiving a placebo. After the flight lands (following 12 days in space), various aspects of the structure, composition, strength and cell and molecular nature of the bones from the flight and ground-based control mice will be analyzed.

"When the mice come back from space, we hope to learn what the effects of microgravity are on the skeleton and on the muscle," explains Bouxsein. "We also want to find out if this new type of therapy will be able to counteract those profound effects and actually promote bone gain in a microgravity environment.

"One in two women and one in five men over age 50 will suffer a fracture resulting from osteoporosis [and bone loss] during their remaining lifetime," she adds. "These fractures have profound personal and societal consequences. With the increasing age of the population there is urgent need to develop bone-building therapies to prevent this type of potentially debilitating injury."


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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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