July 14, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Discovery

The overlap between the space and longevity industries

ISS Research

Research on the ISS can help improve the health of astronauts on long-duration missions and extend the life of people on Earth. (Credit: NASA)


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As the nascent space industry takes off, commercialization and space tourism are expected to become increasingly important. To prepare for long-duration spaceflight, we need to better understand how the human body responds to the unusual environments encountered during space travel. The answer to solving these problems may lie at the intersection of space medicine and human medicine (specifically, longevity) here on Earth.

The challenges and new opportunities for scientific research on aging and longevity in space are increasingly close to becoming practical applications.

Space medicine is a core competency for any human who wishes to explore, develop, and ultimately live permanently in space. Over the past half-century, advances in space health have benefited everyday life on Earth. These advances include laser angioplasty, voice-controlled wheelchairs, programmable pacemakers, digital imaging biopsy systems, and LED imaging to aid in brain cancer surgery.

Often, research conducted in space that is critical to the success of professional astronauts and ultimately space tourists overlaps with longevity research conducted on Earth. Space exploration and the development of longer, healthier human lifespans are essential to our success as we travel among the stars. The challenges and new opportunities for scientific research on aging and longevity in space are moving ever closer to becoming practical applications.

Longevity Technology

Longevity technologies have come a long way since humans began exploring space. A Bank of America-Merrill Lynch report predicted that the human longevity market alone exceed $600 billion by 2025 and called it “technomania”. Until now, longevity technologies such as nanocosmeceuticalsTissue rejuvenation, genomics, artificial intelligence and big data are all contributing to human longevity. Some research raises the idea that we may be able to Extend the average human life expectancy to 120 years.

Advances made on Earth have already proven important in our quest to understand how humans can survive and thrive in space. Many experts still question whether a three-year round trip to Mars would be ethically permissible, given our current understanding of human physiology in space and medical countermeasures to keep crew healthy in space. Research into astronaut health and human longevity is currently underway on the International Space Station to find solutions.

As longer voyages through our solar system (and perhaps beyond) are contemplated, the lack of adequate biomedical expertise to ensure crew health will become apparent. Humans will be far from Earth, in remote and dangerous locations with limited resources. Assistance from home will not be possible. As with any expedition, they will need to have a boost in general health maintenance capabilities on board. As missions begin to become longer, longevity research will take on a dominant role.

Among the healthcare innovations developed in space to counteract ill health and aging, 3D bioprinting has emerged as an extremely reliable tool. Already on Earth, a number of technologies are being developed whereby a patient’s cells can be reprogrammed to take on different functions and then used to build functional copies of natural tissues and organs. Having fully functional versions of these technologies would greatly improve the ability to keep crews safe and thereby increase longevity. Again, this type of research is already underway in the microgravity conditions found on the International Space Station.

Many experts still question whether a three-year round trip to Mars would be ethically permissible, given our current understanding of human physiology in space and medical countermeasures to keep crew healthy in space.

Recently, NASA, along with the Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the FDA, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced a multi-agency effort To extend the lifespan of 3D tissue chips by up to six months, NASA said, the collaboration aims to gain a deeper understanding of disease models, drug development, exposures to chemical and environmental factors and physiological changes due to the space environment, and clinical trial design.

On Earth, the normal aging process involves the deterioration of the skin. Microgravity also typically causes a variety of changes in the human body, many of which are similar to the typical aging process on Earth. However, they tend to occur much faster in microgravity than on Earth. Colgate Skin Aging A 3D model of modified human skin cells has been successfully implemented to examine the molecular and cellular changes that occur during spaceflight. This research may lead to innovative models for preventing the onset of some aging processes. The study could also help to better protect humans from other aging-related problems in wound healing products.

Collaboration between longevity research and space science

At the moment, 55% of space medical research It is supported by commercial funding. The United States is a leader in private research into health in space. Partnerships between private companies and research onboard the ISS have been increasing. One such partnership involves NASA and the Michael J. Fox Foundation and supports research to determine the structure of the LRRK2 gene through protein crystals grown in space. Angie X is another longevity company developing therapies targeting tumor cells and blood vessels in space. Biogen Inc, Eli Lilly, Merck and 490 Biotech are also Advancing life sciences research in space.

Major universities and organizations Research is also being supported in areas related to longevity, such as biomarkers, radioprotectants, gene therapy, and hibernation research. For example, the University of London and the University of Copenhagen are among many working with gene therapy data. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the University of Sydney, and the University of Lyon are conducting research on radioprotectants.

Integrating the advances of both industries, SP8CEVCin partnership with AngelList, is an innovative new revolving fund that generates advances in both space technology and human longevity. Its goal is to combine advances in space and longevity to ultimately support each other. Within the space sector, the goal is to focus on space infrastructure and other assets across more than 20 vertical subsectors. Longevity-based investments focus on organizations that address nine hallmarks of biomarkers, aging, and diagnostics.

The absence of the impact of a strong gravitational field on a variety of chemical and biological processes has yielded insights we would never have seen if we hadn't started asking “what if…?” in space.

“Space is going to create goods, services, and jobs that will change humanity and our planet for the better,” according to SP8CEVC co-founder and longevity lead Junaid Mian, RPh. “However, it’s going to take time to build this infrastructure. And not only that, as people begin to travel, above “Working instead of commuting in space ages people rapidly, and we need to find a way to mitigate that problem. So we also need to increase healthy human life expectancy.”

As has already been demonstrated, research activities on Earth and in space synergistically benefit each other. The use of space provides a totally unique environment not available on the surface of the Earth. The absence of the impact of a strong gravitational field on a variety of chemical and biological processes has yielded insights we would never have seen if we had not started asking “what if…?” in space. The collaborations we have seen develop involve all sectors of biomedicine and chemistry. Together they are working to create healthy habitats and medical support for humans on this world and others.

Advances in human longevity on the future horizon of the space economy should not be underestimated. People need to live and work in space for weeks and months to thrive and conduct their experiments for years and ultimately decades. Space exploration is a multi-generational endeavor and we must begin to approach it with human longevity in mind.

Creating new space stations that build on decades of previous operations will enable greater advances in human health and longevity in space. As we continue to innovate in the science of human longevity in space, these advances will continue to reach Earth. Ultimately, we can create an ever healthier and more stable society everywhere. Learning to explore the far reaches of space can help us live healthier lives here on our home planet.


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