What’s Good For the Goose…
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Too much time in space is not good for the bones.
Prolonged periods in microgravity can cause bone loss – or osteoporosis – in astronauts. Scientists, however, have developed a novel remedy, New Scientist reported.
Astronauts at the International Space Station have to exercise at least two hours a day and take bone-preserving drugs to prevent significant bone loss.
But for longer journeys, they will need injections of strong bone-forming drugs which take up a lot of cargo space.
To resolve this, researcher Kevin Yates and his team created special lettuce packed with an important hormone that stimulates bone formation.
The researchers used a soil bacterium to transfer a gene that produces a version of the parathyroid hormone (PTH) into lettuce.
Presenting their findings at the American Chemical Society Spring 2022 conference in California, Yates’ team said the most productive specimen produced 10 to 12 milligrams of PTH per two pounds.
That means that a space traveler will only need about 13 ounces of the genetically-modified lettuce to keep their bones strong.
“This is a new way of thinking and solving problems for space exploration,” said Yates.
The scientists noted that the lettuce could also be used to treat osteoporosis on Earth too, where the condition affects millions of people.