Wednesday , January 20 2021

Space travel does not damage much of the human immune system, says a new study



Spatial flight does not have a detrimental effect on much of the human immune system, according to new research that may change the way astronauts approach future missions.

Scientists have tested blood samples taken from 23 crew members who spent six months at the International Space Station (ISS), taken before, during and after their journeys.

Researchers investigating the specimens found that time in space did not lead to changes in B-cell immune levels – the white blood cells that produce antibodies to fight infections.

Previously, it was believed that spending time in space was negatively affected by this.

New data could decide whether astronauts who make longer trips in space, including those one day traveling to Mars, should receive in-flight vaccines.

"This is the first study that exhaustively shows that a long-range space flight in human astronauts has a limited effect on B-cell frequency and antibody production," said Dr. John Campbell, a professor at Bath University. "Our results are good news for current astronauts on board the ISS … and for all future astronauts who will try long-term space missions."

Astronauts must maintain optimal B-cell immunity to protect themselves from bacterial and virus-borne diseases.

Scientists say immunity is also important to ensure that all space-based vaccines are effective.

"Long-term orbital space flight is associated with increased levels of psychological stress, acute and chronic exposure to cosmic radiation and microgravation-induced changes, all of which are known to have an adverse effect on the immune system," said Dr. Guilom Spielman University.

Blood samples used for the study were sent from space to Earth in Russian soybean capsules.

They landed in Kazakhstan before they were taken to Moscow, and then were traveled to a Houston lab on a journey lasting from 32 to 48 hours.

The crew members included in the survey are between 37 and 57 years of age, with data collected for 18 separate missions of the ISS.

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Researchers also took blood samples from six people who were terrestrial for a control group.

Their study was published in Journal of Applied Physiology,

Additional reporting by Agencies


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