Arrest Aging by Taking a Spaceflight
Contrary to earlier assumption that muscles shrink in space, a new research deduces that certain types genes may become active in space and contribute to longer life.
The researchers at the University of Nottingham claim that spaceflight helps you live longer. The effect of spaceflight on a microscopic worm, Caenorhabditis elegans (C. Elegans) was that it had received an extended lifespan.
This interesting discovery made by the International Group of Scientists studying the loss of bone and mass experienced by astronauts after long periods of time in space.
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The researchers found that the spaceflight suppresses accumulation of toxic proteins that normally accumulate within aging muscle. This was discovered by Dr Nathaniel Szewczyk, from The University of Nottingham, who was part of the ICE-FIRST project along with scientists from Japan, France, the US, and Canada. The team also discovered a group of genes that are expressed at lower levels during spaceflight. When the expressions of these same genes were lowered in worms back on Earth the worms lived longer.
The researchers examined worms on an 11 days trip on space shuttle to the ISS and then flash frozen once they returned to Earth. A "control group" of worms was kept on Earth at the time and frozen at the same time. With this the lifetime of the worms ranged from two to three weeks, they showed an advance in age. But the muscles of the space-travelled worms exhibited smaller amounts of polyglutamine aggregates; tangles of protein that tended to accumulate in the muscles as animals aged. They also detected 5 genes that were not active in space worms when compared to worms that stayed on Earth.
Dr Nathaniel concluded said, "Well, most of us know that muscle tends to shrink in space. These latest results suggest that this is almost certainly an adaptive response rather than a pathological one. Counter-intuitively, muscle in space may age better than on Earth. It may also be that spaceflight slows the process of aging."
The study was published online in journal Scientific Reports this week.