In turn, by being able to simulate these scenarios in a laboratory setting, the researchers have been able to reportedly assess their direct effects on mice with the help from human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) obtained from healthy donors.
In the current study, the researchers are also testing a common dietary supplement that could protect the astronauts from the damaging effects of radiation, according to Medical Xpress.
Recent research suggests that the astronauts who will take part in NASA's three-year-long Mars Mission could see their risk of leukemia or blood cancer dramatically go up. Analysis of the cells in the lab afterwards revealed that the radiation affected the cells at the stem cell level, causing mutations in genes that affected their ability to develop into mature blood cells.
Senior project researcher and associate professor of regenerative medicine Dr. Christopher Porada said that radiation exposure could up the risk of leukemia in space travelers in two ways. First, the genetic damage to HSCs leads to leukemia. The HSCs were placed in both in vitro and in vivo (mouse) models.
For the time in almost six and a half years, the US Congress has passed a bill to fund the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), allocating $19.5 billion to the agency for research, exploration and space operations. "Secondly, radiation also altered the ability of HSCs to generate T and B cells, types of white blood cells involved in fighting foreign "invaders" like infections or tumor cells". That said, the research team from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine has claimed that the exposure then created the tendency to weaken their immune system, leaving them more prone to radiation-induced cancer.
Found in 0.1pc of an adult's bone marrow, these stem cells are crucial to the production of blood cells that not only transport oxygen, but eliminate any malignant cells.
"Appropriate physical and biomedical countermeasures" need to be developed prior to traveling major space distances, they conclude.
NASA has been conducting research and studies about the effects of radiation, confinement and isolation, microgravity, distance from Earth and hostile and closed environments. "On the surface of Mars, you would live and work in approximately one-third of Earth's gravity, and when you return home you will have to readapt to the gravity we take for granted", NASA cited as an example, where the transition from one gravity field to another is expected to affect head-eye and hand-eye coordination, balance, and locomotion, to name a few.
Recently, there was news that normal humans will also be given this opportunity to experience space travel. That duration is considered a stepping stone to a three-year Mars journey.