Description: For the past few years, space travel has become a frequent topic in the news and of interest to the scientific community, especially since Mars has now become a viable option for manned exploration. Within the next decade, we are set to see the launch of a vast number of human missions to Mars. Bone weakening in astronauts who experience extended spaceflight has been discovered to cause serious side effects, a recent study found that astronauts lose on average 1-2% of their bone mass each month and some astronauts have been found to lose 20% bone mass throughout their lower extremities (NASA, 2016). Many researchers have attributed the bone loss to prolonged weightlessness, because the stress on the bone, due to gravity, is greatly reduced resulting in astronauts experiencing osteoporosis. In spaceflight the parathyroid hormone inhibits the action of osteoblasts (increases bone density) and stimulates the action of osteoclasts (degrade bone mass). However, the hormone calcitonin inhibits osteoclast function and decreases calcium levels inducing osteoblast activity. We hope to tackle Osteoporosis in astronauts using gene-targeted therapy through CRISPR/Cas9 technology to upregulate calcitonin secretion. We will upregulate calcitonin by targeting the promoter of the calcitonin gene using CRISPR/Cas9. We will begin by using E-coli plasmids as our models and monitor the products produced by using GFP-tagged sequences. Although there are means of obtaining calcitonin via pills, injections and nasal sprays; they do not work as effective therapies for astronauts in space and are extremely inconvenient for space travel. Using CRISPR/Cas9 our project hopes to create a more potent form of calcitonin causing a reduction of bone loss in astronauts, as well as provide a new and innovative method for transporting space medicine.
Collaboration details:
Year: 2016Visit Wiki
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Updated at: 8/9/16