Broadcast 2736 Drs. Jonscher and Ferguson

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Guests:  Karen Jonscher, Virginia Ferguson; Topics:  Mice in space show signs of possible liver damage & may be applicable to humans.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See

We welcomed Dr. Karen Jonscher and Dr. Virginia Ferguson to our program to discuss their research based on flying mice in the space shuttle and detecting possible signs of liver disease.  Our guests explained how this mice research gets extrapolated to humans.  You can read about their research in ScienceDaily at  In addition, you can find out more at Dr. Ferguson's lab website,

During the first segment of our 94 minute program, our guests discussed their research, the motivation behind it, using mice in research, especially in space, and the parameters of their experiments.  They also described how they detected the potential liver damage plus they told us why and how mice are compared to humans, including translating age for a mouse to age for a human.  Listen carefully as the first segment went into detail about the experiments, the types of mice used and the variations in mice available for research, and of course what it may mean for humans.  Some of the topics included the age of the mice, their behavior in LEO, Vitamin A (retinol), fatty liver disease, liver regeneration and self-repair, the role of collagen and more.  Our guests were asked to assess the risk for humans going to Mars in developing a form of advanced liver disease.  Our guests suggested more research would be needed to do an accurate risk assessment on this specific human factor risk. 

Ben sent in a note asking if the changes in the liver could be seen on a human via CT scan.  Our guests said that the disease was usually diagnosed with ultrasound but that the resolution was probably not good enough at this time to see early signs of this liver disease.  Listener Harriet wanted to know why we should not just accept the risk and go to Mars anyway.  She said there would always be risks.  The question of private missions to Mars came up such as the one proposed by Elon Musk.  Listen to what our guests had to say in response to these questions.

Near the end of the first segment, listener June asked about mitigation strategies.  Our guests talked about anti-oxidants and supplements.  Artificial gravity was then brought up as a possible successful mitigation strategy.

In the second segment, our Denver caller asked our guests if there might be a drug to control the depletion of retinol.  Our guests explained this problem in detail and suggested one possible "cure" route might be to use nutritional supplements.  The next topic focused on the role of genetics.  Again, our guests had much to say about this so don't miss her comments. Todd even asked about genetic modification as a mitigation strategy.

John from Montana called with three excellent questions.  Listen carefully to John's questions and the discussion that followed as it was a good one.  Also John remained with us for the balance of the discussion because I wanted him to respond to the blog comment that came in just before the show ended from listener Kapitalist.  You can read his two comments on the blog but the first one came in while we were still on the air.  His second comment was posted after the program ended.  Kapitalist said the following: "Great news! They've shown that there are no risks at all for liver problems from microgravity. Any changes are so extremely small that it requires biopsy to even detect it. Might be of interest to biologists, but completely and totally irrelevant to human spaceflight. Yet another scientific proof that microgravity phobia is irrational."  Each of our guests took time to reply to Kapitalist, then I asked John for his thoughts on the subject which he gladly shared with us all.  Make sure you hear what each said in response to Kapitalist.  What do you think? How would you have responded to him?  Post it on the blog for all of us to see and value.

Our guests offered us closing comments so don't miss them.  They also referred us to the NASA GeneLab (  Please post your comments/questions in the comments section for this archived show on TSS website.




Possible liver damage for long duration spaceflight

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12 Jul 2016 Dr. Karen Jonscher, Dr. Virginia Ferguson
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