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Date:12/31/2012

e, several studies have demonstrated the potential cancer, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal impact of galactic cosmic radiation. The study out today for the first time examines the potential impact of space radiation on neurodegeneration, in particular, the biological processes in the brain that contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. O'Banion whose research focuses on how radiation affects the central nervous system and his team have been working with NASA for over eight years.

The researchers studied the impact of a particular form of radiation called high-mass, high-charged (HZE) particles. These particles which are propelled through space at very high speeds by the force of exploding stars come in many different forms. For this study the researcher chose iron particles. Unlikely hydrogen protons, which are produced by solar flares, the mass of HZE particles like iron, combined with their speed, enable them to penetrate solid objects such as the wall and protective shielding of a spacecraft.

"Because iron particles pack a bigger wallop it is extremely difficult from an engineering perspective to effectively shield against them," said O'Banion. "One would have to essentially wrap a spacecraft in a six-foot block of lead or concrete."

A portion of the research was conducted at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. NASA located its research operation at Brookhaven to take advantage of the Lab's particle accelerators which by colliding matter together at very high speeds can reproduce the radioactive particles found in space.

The researchers specifically wanted to examine whether or not radiation exposure had the potential to accelerate the biological and cognitive indicators of Alzheimer's disease, particularly in individuals who may be predisposed to developing the disease. To accomplish this they chose study the impact on animal models of Alzheime
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Contact: Mark Michaud
Mark_Michaud@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-4790
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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