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For an immune cell, microgravity mimics aging

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Posted April 23, 2014
For an immune cell, microgravity mimics aging
At specified times during the T-Cell Activation in Aging study, the International Space Station’s crew will use hand-operated tools to add activation and fixative materials to experiment units like the one seen here. Credit: Millie Hughes-Fulford

Telling someone to “act your age” is another way of asking him or her to behave better. Age, however, does not always bring improvements. Certain cells of the immune system tend to misbehave with age, leaving the elderly more vulnerable to illness. Because these cells are known to misbehave similarly during spaceflight, researchers are studying the effects of microgravity on immune cells to better understand how our immune systems change as we age.

NASA and the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, have teamed up to support research aboard the International Space Station that may one day advance medical care and quality of life for all humanity. T-Cell Activation in Aging is the first study to launch into space that is funded by the Biomedical Research on the International Space Station National Institutes of Health initiative.

It is difficult to study the genetic and molecular changes associated with aging-related  because the condition develops over decades, and the elderly often have illnesses that can complicate research studies. However, changes in the immune system—including T-cell behavior—quickly occur in space.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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