OSTEO is the name of the series of experiments that studies osteoblast (bone) cell growth. One of the major physiological show stoppers in sending humans to Mars is bone loss . If Mars Mission takes 30 months to complete, scientists predict a 30% bone loss making bone fracture a risk on return to Earth. We believe that the cause of space osteoporosis is the lack of exercise against gravity which causes a reduction in bone growth activation.
Our OSTEO experiments will test this hypothesis in Biorack hardware in Spacehab on S/MM-03, 05 and 06. Our goal is to discover the molecular basis of bone loss in 0-gravity so scientists and engineers can work on a solution to the problem.
The OSTEO patch is a statement supporting the presence of human beings in planetary exploration. Against the black background of the Universe, the Shuttle is pointed to the planet Mars symbolizing the ultimate goal of this project: helping to facilitate a manned Mars Mission. The exhaust of the Shuttle is depicted as a double helix of DNA, the molecule that controls the expression of mRNA (messenger RNA) which regulates osteoblast growth. We will study the induction of osteoblast mRNA expression and growth in 0-gravity. 0.3 gravity and in 1-gravity, looking for the threshold of gravity needed for normal bone growth. At the edge of the patch Earth's sun emits red and yellow sunbeams, symbolizing the light of knowledge that will be brought back from space by these experiments. Beneath the Shuttle lies the Earth North America and Europe symbolizing the International coorporation between NASA ESA and the scientists of the Laboratory of Cell Growth who will analyze the space samples at the University of California and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco, California.
OSTEO PI: M. Hughes-Fulford Scientists: V. Vincent, K. Gasuad, W. Szeto, C. Yu and M. Hughes-Fulford Patch Graphics: Ed Caballero, Vicki Vincent, Karen Brown and Millie Hughes-Fulford