Could zero gravity treat Stone Man Syndrome?

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Offline thedoc

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Could zero gravity treat Stone Man Syndrome?
« on: 18/07/2012 23:30:01 »
Kellee Adams asked the Naked Scientists:
Could the effects of zero gravity be used in treatment of Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva disease (Stone Man Syndrome)?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 18/07/2012 23:30:01 by _system »


Offline chris

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Re: Could zero gravity treat Stone Man Syndrome?
« Reply #1 on: 20/07/2012 09:12:18 »
I have a feeling that these bony disorders are a manifestation of a genetic abnormality that causes the skeletal system to ignore normal growth controls. Therefore, I'm not sure that sending these people into space would make much difference...

It's a good question though. I shall invite Dr Ken Poole, who is an authority on this, to contribute.

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Offline CliffordK

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Re: Could zero gravity treat Stone Man Syndrome?
« Reply #2 on: 20/07/2012 10:59:41 »
There are some disorders which involve loss of movement in which the patients may find it easier to maneuver in a zero-G environment in space.  Exercise & muscular strength is always an issue.

Bone loss and osteoporosis in astronauts is a major issue, due to a lack of weight bearing exercise. 

So, if a person with Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) has problems with bone overgrowth.
And, astronauts have problems with bone loss.
What would happen if the FOP patient lived life in space?

I find it doubtful that the mechanism causing osteoporosis in space would prevent the excess bone growth.

However, there seems to be a relationship between FOP and stress & scar tissue.  An environment that reduces stress and scar tissue formation might slow the progression of the disease, so there might, in fact, be some benefits from life in space. 

I don't see any notes on whether FOP patients, for example paraplegic FOP patients actually develop osteoporosis.  It is possible that the FOP would be protective from osteoporosis developing in space. 

If the muscle and bone do in fact weaken, then it may be a one-way trip, in which the patients would be unable to return to earth after a year or more in space.

With the expense of transport, one would certainly have to have strict guidelines as to what the government would be willing to provide a patient on a long-term mission in space.

There may also be a mouse model of the disease which might at least allow early experiments to study ossification and osteoporosis in space faring mice.