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NASA Finds That Dormant Viruses Activate During Spaceflight



Space travel may seem exciting to those watching from afar but it comes with many scary complications that the surface when adjusting to new conditions never experienced on Earth. NASA is looking for 'HAPPY' SPACESUITS TO COMBAT ASTRONAUT SADNESS

Herpes viruses reactivated

The herpes viruses were reactivated in more than NASA's astronaut endure weeks or even months exposed to microgravity and cosmic radiation – not to mention the extreme G-forces of take-off and re-entry , "said senior author Dr. Satish K. Mehta of KBR Wyle at the Johnson Space Center.

"This physical challenge is compounded by more familiar stressors, such as social separation, confinement, and altered sleep-wake cycle."

Mehta and colleagues monitor the physiological impact of spaceflight by analyzing the astronaut's sew, blood and urine samples. What they found was problematic

"During spaceflight there is a rise in the secretion of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which are known to suppress the immune system. In keeping with this, we find that astronaut's immune cells, especially those that "

These circumstances could be further compounded by the stressful environment astronauts find themselves in.

" To date, 47 out of 89 (53%) astronauts are short space shuttle flights, and 1

4 out of 23 (61%) of the longer ISS missions shed herpes viruses in their saliva or urine samples, "reported Mehta.

" These frequencies – as well as the "

Researchers have detected four of the eight known human herpes viruses, including oral and genital herpes ( HSV), chickenpox and shingles (VZV).

Luckily, the viral shedding has been for now largely asymptomatic. "Only six astronauts have developed any symptoms due to viral reactivation," says Mehta. "All were minor."

However, the shedding of the virus has been found to post post flight posing a potential threat to immunocompromised or uninfected people on Earth.

"Infectious VZV and CMV were shed in body fluids up to 30 days after return from the International Space Station," added Mehta.

In addition, as we engage in longer missions to space, the danger increases with their duration

"The magnitude, frequency and duration of the increase in the length of spaceflight."

Countermeasures needed

Mehta argues that there is a need to develop countermeasures against this shedding. Ideally, a vaccination would work but for the moment it only exists for one kind of herpes; VZV.

"Trials of other herpes virus vaccines show little promise, so our present focus is on developing targeted treatment regimens for people who suffer from the effects of viral reactivation."

"This research has tremendous clinical relevance for patients on Earth Already, our spaceflight-developed technologies for rapid viral detection in the saliva have been employed in clinics and hospitals around the world, "concluded Mehta.

The study is published in Frontiers in Microbiology. [19659024] (function (d, s, id) {
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