Researchers at the UJM measure the impact of space

Researchers at the UJM measure the impact of space flight on the skeleton of Thomas Pesquet

Since his return to Earth, the astronaut Thomas Pesquet is subjected to many experiments. After six months spent on the International Space Station, what are the effects of space flight on the skeleton of the European Space Agency astronaut?
This is what the researchers at the Laboratory SAnté INGéniérie BIOlogie (UJM / Mines Saint-Étienne / INSERM) will be trying to study, based on the Campus Santé Innovation (Health and Innovation Campus) at Jean Monnet University. The measurements made on the French astronaut will allow to evaluate the bone loss due to the weightlessness.


The impact of spaceflight on the physiology and skeleton of Thomas Pesquet

Before taking off in November 2016 from Baikonur to join the International Space Station, Thomas Pesquet underwent many measurements carried out by researchers at the SAINBIOSE Laboratory. They met the French astronaut Friday June 16, 2017 in Venlo, Holland to carry out a second series of measurements, especially on the wrists and ankles where the "slices" of bones are finer. An experiment in vitro will also aim to understand why the precursor cells of the bone marrow differentiate in space in adipocytes at the expense of osteocytes, a major cause of decreased bone formation and therefore of bone loss.

The results will allow to evaluate the bone loss due to weightlessness, despite the 2 hours of exercise practiced each day by the astronaut, as well as the recovery of its skeleton through a quantified follow-up during the year to come.

This research project on Thomas Pesquet is realized thanks to a high-resolution miniaturized scanner called XtremeCT, designed in Zurich and used for the needs of space research in the world. This tool, which has never been embarked in space, allows to realize virtual biopsies and to imagery the microstructure of the bone.

The expertise of the Laboratory SAINBIOSE on osteoporosis

This scientific experiment on Thomas Pesquet, the tenth Frenchman to go into space, comes after the framework agreement between CNES and INSERM in September 2016 to orbit the research projects of three INSERM laboratories including SAINBIOSE.

However, the Laboratory is not in its first experiment: researchers have been working for thirty years on the effect of weightlessness because, in the absence of gravity, the mechanical constraints disappear, allowing a better understanding of bone fragility due to immobilization, physical inactivity and aging similar to the consequences of osteoporosis.

Before carrying out their experiments on Thomas Pesquet, researchers at the Laboratory SAINBIOSE had already worked on bone cells, mice, and then the spationauts Jean-Loup Chrétien and Patrick Baudry as well as Claudie Haigneré, the first female spationaut of France.


Crédits photo UJM

Learn more :
Le Laboratoire SAINBIOSE

Publié le 16 juin 2017