ESA looking for more European women to volunteer for WISE bed-rest study in Toulouse next year

10/21/04

In preparation for the Women International Space Simulation for Exploration (WISE) study, which starts on 22 February next year, an official call for candidates to participate as test subjects was issued on 3 August.

Over 700 women have responded in the 10 weeks since then, demonstrating strong interest in the study among potential participants. However, most of the applications are from France, where the WISE study is to take place, and ESA wishes to ensure that women from all over Europe get the chance to participate.

WISE offers European women a unique opportunity to be part of space research and human spaceflight in Europe. This 60-day study is a joint venture between the European Space Agency (ESA), the French space agency (CNES), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). It will be carried out by MEDES, the French Institute of Medicine and Space Physiology, at its clinical research facility in the Rangueil hospital in Toulouse, France.

WISE will need 24 female test subjects to remain in bed, slightly tilted head down at six degrees below the horizontal, for a total of 60 days. This serves to simulate the physiological effects of an extended period in weightlessness as experienced by astronauts. The study will assess the roles of nutrition and physical exercise in countering the adverse effects of prolonged gravitational unloading during bed-rest.

The 24 test subjects will be divided into three groups, eight in each. One will be the control group, receiving no extra stimulus over the course of the 60-day bed-rest period. The second will be put through an exercise programme while in bed during this time. The third will receive nutritional supplements over the 60 days. For the 21 days prior to the 60-day bed-rest period, the subjects will take part in the collection of baseline data. During the 20 days afterwards they will undergo similar tests for comparison with the baseline data.

The data collected by WISE will form the basis of findings relating to specific areas including muscle condition, blood parameters, cardiovascular condition, changes in immune system, bone formation and psychological wellbeing. All research areas, objectives and protocols of the study have been approved by the relevant French ethical committee in Toulouse and will comply in full with all applicable national and international laws and regulations.

The results expected from WISE will be valuable to the European Space Agency's planning of future long-duration human space exploration missions. This research will also have clinical significance on Earth by obtaining knowledge which can improve methods of recovery for bedridden patients. Studying the early effects of reduced activity on a molecular level is expected to provide further evidence of the benefits of regular exercise in the prevention of conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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