Houston, we have a checkup: UCF doctors study effects of space travel on astronauts’ organs | News

Houston, we have a checkup: UCF doctors study the effects of microgravity on astronauts

Researchers from the University of California School of Medicine teamed up with Sheba Medical Center and Rabin Medical Center in Israel to study the effects of microgravity on the eyes and brain of astronauts on the Axiom 1 mission. The astronauts, who are scheduled to return to Earth on Monday, will complete post-flight tests at a clinic. UCF Health and UCF Lake Nona Hospital. (From left to right: Dr. Ali Rizvi, Dr. Mehul Patel, and Dr. Joyce Paulson.)

After spending two weeks in space, four astronauts will return to Earth on Monday to help doctors at UCF explore the effects of space travel on the human brain and eyes.

Doctors from the University of California Medical School teamed up with two Israeli medical centers to analyze the brain and eye of astronauts on the Axiom 1 mission ahead of its April 8 launch.

The researchers will re-examine the crew, which includes Eitan Stipe, Larry Connor, Mark Bathy and Michael Lopez-Alegria, at UCF Health and UCF Lake Nona Hospital to assess potential changes in their organs.

“I will wait with my arms wide open to catch them as they come in,” said Dr. Mehul Patel, an ophthalmologist at UCF Health. “All the testing we did before launch, we’ll do it again.”

Patel is one of the physicians involved in the study focusing on the neurological eye syndrome associated with spaceflight.

SANS is associated with microgravity, a condition in which the force of gravity decreases, according to NASA. The agency said that the syndrome causes swelling of the optic nerve, changes the internal structure of the eye and reduces vision.

Patel said looking at eye structures before and after humans are exposed to microgravity will help the team understand the syndrome and find ways to prevent it.

“Microgravity, increased radiation, more carbon dioxide on the space station, all of these things will affect how the body functions based on physiology. And we want to see what those changes are,” Patel said.

Dr. Gal Antmann, ophthalmologist-in-residence at Rabin Medical Center in Israel, works alongside Patel. He said the study uses advanced technology that shows eye structures with high accuracy.

“We’re doing a new method that’s able to see blood vessels, the blood vessels of the eyes,” Antmann said. “It is new and has not been performed on astronauts to this day.”

Another group of researchers will focus on the effects of microgravity on the brain’s protective barrier.

Dr. Harel Paris from Sheba Medical Center in Israel joined UCSD endocrinologist Dr. Ali Razavi and UCLA internist Dr. Joyce Paulson in a study examining changes in the blood-brain barrier in humans during space travel.

The blood-brain barrier refers to the tissue that protects the brain from harmful substances, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“It acts as a biochemical barrier that does not allow free movement of any kind of substance to enter and may affect the central nervous system in a negative way,” Rizvi said.

The goal, Rizvi said, is to understand the structure’s modifications and how clinicians can use them to their advantage.

Barris, who is the lead researcher on the research, said the team will measure the widening of the pores in the septum and assess the possibility of drug administration through those pores. The goal, he said, is to treat conditions that degrade nervous system cells by allowing drugs to enter the functional tissues of the brain.

“Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia are a major problem in the modern world,” Barriss said. Inability to transfer the therapeutic agent to the brain parenchyma It is a huge challenge that we all face.”

Baris’ study will be aided by UCF researcher Dr. Michel Masternac and a group of UCLA graduate students, who will analyze blood samples and trace specific proteins.

Masternak said the process has been challenging, from collecting samples from astronauts following the International Space Station’s schedule to preparing for when they reach Earth on Monday.

“We have to be ready to collect some samples and process the samples in our lab as early in the morning as 4 a.m.,” said Masternack. “But we’re really excited. So, it’s not just about me and my personal interest in this project, but our students, that they have a chance to be involved in this.”

Dr. Amoy Fraser, director of clinical research at UCF, said the partnership with Axiom Space brings UCF closer to NASA and opens up opportunities for future collaboration.

“We’re in Orlando and the closest medical school to the Kennedy Space Center, so all the clinical trials they want to do are best done in collaboration with us,” Fraser said.

Fraser also said that working with two Israeli medical centers brings recognition to the UCF and the College of Medicine both nationally and internationally.

The Ax-1 mission, which was originally scheduled to last 10 days, was postponed due to unfavorable weather conditions on Tuesday. The mission is now scheduled to lift off from the International Space Station at around 8:55 p.m. Sunday and lift off off the coast of Florida around 1 p.m. Monday, according to Axiom Space.

Without hesitation in expressing his pleasure to work with the crew, Patel said that the team aims to receive astronauts at UCF health facilities within 72 hours of liftoff, but that protocols that ensure crew safety may delay the process.

“We’d like to get them, you know, in that taxi from wherever they get here, like going straight to the clinic, but that’s not realistic,” Patel said. “So, as soon as we let them come to us, we’ll do all the tests.”