A plan for the next 50 years                                                                                                            Spaceflight 52:471, 2010



 In the previous 50 years relatively little has been accomplished regarding addressing the issues  of potential human spaceflight—impairment in perfusion of the liver and kidneys with in turn  the inability to use pharmaceuticals.

       A three-pronged  approach with (A)  partial restoration of plasma volume reductions , (B) correction of deficiencies of magnesium and (C)  restoration of perhaps relatively few gene deficiencies may correct these circulatory problems resulting  in the inability to metabolize or excrete pharmaceuticals . 

       The problem centres around the potential for injuries to the lining of the blood vessels i.e. the endothelium. Too much (1) or too little (2) exercise will only intensify the problem.

       Also there is an invariable deficit of magnesium required for the release of a vessel dilator and clot buster and there is an invariable reduction of plasma (about 10 percent) triggering in turn anaemia with about 10 percent reductions of red blood cells; they not only carry oxygen but are antioxidants. These reductions occur within days.

        Gene therapy, however, may require decades of research both on Earth and on the International Space Station. Of the 20,000 or more genes comprising the genome it is conceivable that by correcting just a few genes deficiencies we may ultimately succeed in restoring liver and kidney functions.

         However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for the restoration of collateral blood vessels are extraordinarily complex; it appears that we may succeed only by a “multiple gene factor strategy”. (3)

         This process could begin by corrections of as many as four gene deficiencies—all required for the development  of collateral blood vessels; this would include administering genes required for the two vessel dilators and clot busters , and a gene for a vessel  growth factor and a gene to restore the blood volume.

        If deficiencies of kidney and liver functions persist then one-by-one additional genes would be administered until adequate functions of the liver and kidneys are restored by providing sufficient perfusion.

        Some might argue that gene therapy is far too complicated in attempting   to improve collateral circulation but there seems to be no alternative for very long missions. After five months in space during a 438 day mission c GMP --- a second messenger reflecting the activity of the two vessel dilator and clot busters – was no longer detectable and not restored until three months after the mission.(3)

         Some might argue that rather than pursue very complicated gene therapy research, it would be simpler just to simulate 1G with a centrifuge device. That would serve the purpose for transit beyond Earth but how could one avoid vascular complications while exploring over very long distances  in a microgravity environment, combined with digging tunnels, building habitats, and ultimately colonizing?

William J. Rowe  FBIS

Virginia, USA



1.       W.J. Rowe, “ Extraordinary unremitting endurance exercise and permanent injury to normal heart. Lancet, 340, 712-714, 1992.

2.       W.J.Rowe, “ Interplanetary travel and permanent injury to normal heart. “ ACTA  Astronautica , 40, 719-722, 1997.

3.       W.J.Rowe, “ Long space missions, gene therapy, and the vital role of magnesium. Now a plan for the next 50 years. “ International J. Nephrology and Renovascular Disease. (in press ) 2010.  



















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