BEIJING, Dec 6 (Xinhua) — Forty genetically modified mice aboard a Dragon spacecraft launched by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to the International Space Station today, scientists hope to use them to figure out how to slow the loss of muscle and bones in microgravity. The Dragon spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station on Sunday. The experiment was conducted by Jackson Laboratories, a U.S. nonprofit biomedical research organization, and some of the mice’s genes were modified to strengthen muscle growth.
40 genetically modified mice sent to the International Space Station
A protein that limits muscle growth is called muscle production inhibitor, and its effects are similar to those of traffic police that prevent drivers from speeding. Scientists hope to suppress the effects of microgravity by preventing the gene-modified mice from producing muscle-producing inhibitors that stimulate muscle and bone growth.
They will help scientists study how to reduce muscle and bone loss in microgravity. For years, astronaut muscle and bone loss has been a major obstacle to deep space exploration missions, with long-term loss of muscle and bone leading to heart disease and osteoporosis.
The experiment, conducted with mice, “will also be of great significance for understanding the muscle degradation of people living on Earth,” Jackson’s lab said on its website. In addition to space, scientists hope the results of the experiment could be used to help recover from hip fracture surgery, critically ill patients and the elderly in need of special care.
The 40 genetically modified mice are the latest rat visitors to the International Space Station
The 40 mice that were launched today on a Dragon spacecraft will be the latest in a son-in-class group of visitors to the International Space Station. Earlier this year, 20 mice stayed on the International Space Station for several weeks.
As part of the space experiment, 40 genetically modified mice stayed on the ground as a control group, and scientists will compare the two groups of mice when they return to Earth next month after 40 genetically modified mice sent into space.
Genetically modified mice are not only more powerful, but also larger in shape than normal mice.
In addition to 40 genetically modified mice, the Dragon spacecraft also supplied life supplies and other experimental equipment to the International Space Station, including equipment to test basic gravity theory and test heart disease treatments. In addition, the Dragon spacecraft will deliver what NASA calls the “Robot Tool Storage” to the International Space Station, which will be installed outside the International Space Station to protect robots operating outside the International Space Station.
The Dragon spacecraft will carry about 5,700 pounds (2,600 kilograms) of supplies to the International Space Station.
The question is, some of the genes of these 40 mice have been modified to slow the loss of muscle and bones in microgravity. If the results of this study were used to treat muscle atrophy and osteoporosis, would the patient’s genes be modified?