Feeds

Brit rubbish-dump worms in space station science triumph

Garbage-scoffing creatures prove zero G therapy

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

An international boffinry alliance, by means of sending a huge colony of worms found scoffing rotting vegetables in a Bristol rubbish dump on a trip to the International Space Station, has found a cure for the muscle wasting suffered by astronauts living in zero/micro gravity.

The worms in question were of the species Caenorhabditis elegans, and were supplied by boffins at Nottingham uni having originally been found browsing a dump in Bristol. Many of C elegans' genes perform the same function as those in humans, and the scientists wanted to see if RNA interference therapy (RNAi) could be used to fight the serious loss of muscle which astronauts are subject to during long spaceflights.

Some millions of the worms were sent up aboard space shuttle Atlantis on the STS-129 mission in 2009, and subsequently treated in the station's Japanese-built "Kibo" lab podule. They were subsequently brought back to Earth on the next shuttle to visit, Endeavour (now retired), executing mission STS-130.

"It was really a quite straightforward experiment," says Nottingham uni's Dr Nathaniel Szewczyk. "Once the worms were in space the scientists onboard the International Space Station treated them with RNAi and then returned them to us for post flight analysis.

"These results are very exciting as they clearly demonstrate that RNAi can be used effectively to block proteins which are needed for muscle to shrink."

Szewczyk's colleague and fellow space garbage-worm gene therapy boffin, Dr Timothy Etheridge, added: "We were very pleased... our experiments allowed us to demonstrate that this form of gene therapy works effectively during spaceflight. The unexpected finding that RNAi can effectively block protein degradation in muscle in space was also a very welcome surprise."

The experiment was part of the Japanese CERISE payload and funded by the US National Institute of Health and the UK Medical Research Council. Japanese scientists contributed much of the research. The findings are also expected to prove useful in fighting muscle loss due to old age and illness.

You can read full boffinry on the study here, courtesy of the journal PLoS ONE. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.