Broadcast 1769 (Special Edition)

06 May 2012 Dr. John Jurist, Dr. Thomas Lang, Dr. Adrian LeBlanc
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Guests: CLASSROOM: Dr. Adrian LeBlanc, Dr. Tom Lang, Dr. John Jurist. Topics: Bone loss issues for human spaceflight & the use of bisphosphonates for mitigation. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com and The Space Show Classroom blog, http://spaceshowclassroom.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed Dr. Adrian LeBlanc, Dr. Tom Lang and Dr. John Jurist as co-host to discuss the NASA bisphosphonate and bone loss study in progress. Dr. LeBlanc along with his associate in Japan, Dr. Toshio Matsumoto, are leading this study and Dr. Lang is part of the team. We started our discussion with Dr. LeBlanc providing us with a brief historical overview of bone loss issues of concern to NASA since the early days of the space program. We talked about Skylab, Mir, the use of the DEXA scan, the use of quantitative computer tomography (QTC) and CT scans through to the ISS, Space Shuttle, and current research projects. Our discussion was technical at times so if you need to look up or Google a technical term, please do so. In addition, we had some audio issues with the phone line used by Dr. LeBlanc as he faded in and out from time to time. We apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused. The first segment went through the bone loss issues, problems, consequences, & the methodologies involved in analyzing the conditions encountered by the astronauts participating in these studies. Issues we discussed included the use of prescription drugs in space, long term use of bisphosphonates, risk factors for spontaneous hip fractures, exercise programs, bone strength, bone mass, the impact of radiation, skeletal recovery back on Earth after spaceflight to something different than before the spaceflight took place as well as the implications for astronauts as they age. We talked about using artificial gravity to mitigate bone loss. You might be surprised to learn that using partial gravity may not help matters. Bisphosphonates do seem to help and will possibly play a role with exercise as we move to long duration spaceflight but we are in the very early stages of fact finding on these issues. We also discussed informed consent with the astronauts regarding their participation in these and other experiments. In the second segment, a listener asked about the relevance of this type of space research to the taxpayer who funds it and to the general population. Our three guests responded to this question, explaining why the research is relevant and important. Don't miss their answers. We then talked about following the astronauts here on Earth to see the continued impact of having been in space on their bones as they age. We learned that bone changes after being in space for four weeks or more and it is important to follow these changes as part of the aging process. Our guests talked about calcium excretion issues in space and the risk this causes for a renal stones. Bisphosphonates may inhibit calcium excretion which would help mitigate this risk. Near the end of our discussion, we learned about new medications being developed that are more advanced than the bisphosphonates we have today. We also talked about the competition with astronauts for different scientific experiments. As Dr. Jurist pointed out, we really do need lots more human spaceflight! At the end a listener asked about bed rest studies and our guests provided us with the basics. If you are interested, visit https://bedreststudy.jsc.nasa.gov. Our guests made important closing comments and take away points. Please post comments/questions on The Space Show and Classroom blogs.

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