Navigation Links
Space-related radiation research could help reduce fractures in cancer survivors

HOUSTON (Sept. 15, 2009) A research project looking for ways to reduce bone loss in astronauts may yield methods of improving the bone health of cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment.

It is well documented that living in the microgravity environment of space causes bone loss in astronauts, but until recently, little was known about the effects of space radiation on bones. Dr. Ted Bateman leads a project funded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) to understand radiation-induced bone loss and to determine which treatments can be used to reduce that loss and lower the risk of fractures.

"Our studies indicate significant bone loss at the radiation levels astronauts will experience during long missions to the moon or Mars," said Bateman, a member of NSBRI's Musculoskeletal Alterations Team.

Bateman, an associate professor of bioengineering at Clemson University, and colleagues at Clemson and Loma Linda University have discovered in experiments with mice that bone loss begins within days of radiation exposure through activation of bone-reducing cells called osteoclasts. Under normal conditions, these cells work with bone-building cells, called osteoblasts, to maintain bone health.

"Our research challenges some conventional thought by saying radiation turns on the bone-eating osteoclasts," Bateman said. "If that is indeed the case, existing treatments, such as bisphosphonates, may be able to prevent this early loss of bone."

Bisphosphonates are used to prevent loss of bone mass in patients who have osteoporosis or other bone disorders.

Even though the research is being performed to protect the health of NASA astronauts, cancer patients, especially those who receive radiation therapy in the pelvic region, could benefit from the research.

"We know that older women receiving radiotherapy to treat pelvic tumors are particularly vulnerable to fracture, with hip fracture rates increasing 65 percent to 200 percent in these cancer patients," said Bateman. "Hip fractures are very serious; nearly one in four patients who fracture a hip will not survive a year. A large number of surviving patients will require long-term care. More than 80 percent of the patients will not be able to walk unaided or will not be back to pre-fracture activity levels after a year."

Once a person loses bone, their long-term fracture risk depends on their ability to recover lost bone mass. For older cancer patients, early introduction of bisphosphonates and other forms of treatment could help greatly since the process of regaining bone mass can be more difficult due to lower activity levels.

Clemson's Dr. Jeff Willey is a collaborator with Bateman and the lead investigator of an NSBRI-funded project looking at the cellular mechanisms involved in radiation-induced bone loss. He said the bone loss in the spaceflight-related experiments has occurred quickly and cell physiology has changed.

"If we expose mice to a relatively low dose of radiation, the cells that break down bone are turned on several days after exposure," he said. "After radiation exposure, osteoclasts appear to have a different shape. They get flatter, and there are certainly more of them."

The mice used in the research have received the amount of radiation exposure that is expected to occur during a lengthy mission to the moon or Mars. The amount is much less than what cancer patients receive during treatment. For example, patients receiving radiation treatment in the pelvic region can receive doses up to 80 gray over a six- to eight-week period, with the hip receiving up to 25 gray. Astronauts are likely to receive about 0.5 to 1 gray during a long-duration lunar or martian mission.

Astronauts are at risk of radiation exposure from two sources. The first is proton radiation from the sun. The second, and less understood type, is galactic cosmic radiation from sources outside the galaxy. Galactic cosmic rays and protons would be the source of radiation damage for astronauts during a mission to Mars.

Marcelo Vazquez, NSBRI's senior scientist for space radiation research, said Bateman's project and other NSBRI radiation projects will influence spacecraft design and mission planning. "The research will help to define the radiation risks for astronauts during long-term missions," Vazquez said. "This will lead to strategies for shielding and medical countermeasures to protect against exposure."

Bateman's NSBRI work is leading to other studies. "We have been able to initiate a couple of clinical trials with cancer patients to determine if what we are seeing in mice corresponds with bone loss in humans. Preliminary results in these trials show rapid declines in bone mass and strength," Bateman said.


Contact: Brad Thomas
National Space Biomedical Research Institute

Related medicine news :

1. Space-Related Radiation Research Could Help Reduce Fractures in Cancer Survivors
2. Informational handout key to giving parents a better understanding of CT radiation risks
3. Prophylactic cranial irradiation in small cell lung cancer significantly increases survival
4. Different method of evaluating the urinary tract system reduces radiation dose
5. Radiation and drug combo helps boost efficacy of lung cancer treatment
6. Nucletron Announces Management Buy-Out to More Effectively Meet the Demands of Its Customers and the Radiation Therapy Community
7. Radiation therapy technique reduces length of prostate cancer treatment
8. Radiation therapy technique reduces length of prostate cancer treatment
9. Jefferson radiation oncologists use real-time system to plant seeds against cancer
10. Radiation Therapy Services Acquires North Carolina Facility
11. NASA, NSBRI Select 17 Proposals in Space Radiation Research
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... , ... Cold Shoulder , LLC launched their Pro Vest, the latest version of their ... of $20,000 in under 10 hours. , The campaign, which will continue ... Vest to the market. , The PRO Vest provides consumers with a less expensive, one-size ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... Dr. Rodney E. Willey , has answered a new calling – to relieve snoring ... treatment for snoring and sleep apnea through oral appliance therapy. He is ... in the US, one of four in the Illinois area. , Dr. Willey’s ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... Bibliomotion ... and Detroit Taught Me about Reinvention and Diversity by Nancy M. Schlichting, ... suffer, with hospitals failing to adequately address the needs of patients and their families, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Miami, FL (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 ... ... manufacturer and engineer of patented products, announces Innovative Blending, a household invention that ... go. , "The Juice & Smoothie Bars market is worth $2 billion," says ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... World Patent Marketing , ... a cosmetic invention which offers a combination of natural essential oils to create ... is worth $3 billion annually," says Scott Cooper, CEO and Creative Director of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  In the pharmaceutical industry, companies want ... to quickly uncover new insights, tactics and strategies that ... --> However, organizations often find it ... and ensure that all rules and regulations are met ... major barrier to efficiently launching market research projects is ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , 24 de noviembre de 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... Breathing Pacemaker System, se complace anunciar el nombramiento ... consultor clínico.   ... -   --> ... un fisiólogo y consultor en neonatología y cardiología ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  DILON Diagnostics and GE Healthcare are ... for DILON to distribute GE,s Discovery NM750b Molecular Breast ... of this distribution agreement will provide Dilon,s experienced distribution ... system and is considered an initial step in an ... for clinicians and their patients. --> ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: