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N° 60–2001: Weightless in bed for three months. Want to volunteer?

29 October 2001

Space is the only true weightless environment. On Earth, where experiments can be performed more easily, models are designed to simulate the weightless environment as accurately as possible. Simulation models provide significant knowledge and are crucial in ongoing research. Current research aims are to gain knowledge that will protect astronauts' health while living in space for longer than 6 month.

Long-duration bedrest study is one of the means available on the ground to simulate the effects on the human body experienced in a weightless environment. The technique of anti-orthostatic (-6° head-down tilt), bedrest has been used in Europe, the United States, Russia and Japan since 1960 for different lengths of time. The ongoing study in the MEDES Space Clinic in Toulouse is the first ever of such complexity and duration to be carried out in Europe. The whole study is being conducted under French biomedical research law.

For the first phase of this study, 14 volunteers (selected in June) began the 3-month bedrest in August and will continue until completion in December. The European Space Agency, in association with CNES and NASDA, the French and Japanese space agencies, is now calling for candidates interested in taking part in the second three-month phase of the study at the MEDES Space Clinic in Toulouse starting in March 2002, for which 14 new volunteers will be needed. They will have to be available for 4 months altogether.

What are the selection criteria?

You must be:

· a citizen of the European Space Agency Member States or of the European Union

· a male*

· aged between 25 and 45

· between 165 and 185 cm in height

· not overweight

· a non-smoker

· in good health

· under no medical treatment

· covered by health insurance

· highly motivated

The volunteers for this experiment will be exposed to a large number of different scientific and medical examinations, performed by an international team of scientists.

The examinations will be in the areas of:

· muscle performance and capacity,

· change in bone tissue,

· cardiovascular control systems (heart and circulation),

· sleep,

· changes in blood and urine composition.

The main objective of the campaign is to study the effects of immobilisation and/or activity on bone and muscle tissue. In this particular campaign, certain techniques to counteract deterioration in muscle and bone tissue will be studied.

In addition, the results of the study are expected to help improve the treatment and recovery of hospitalised or bedridden patients, especially with regard to muscle and bone status.

Phase one of the study is ongoing at this time, and the mid-point of the study has been passed. All volunteers are coping well and can now count down till the end of the study, which for the first two will be on 3 December.

For further information about the criteria and details of how to apply, call +33 62 19 28 97 for answers in English and +33 5 62 19 28 96 for answers in French.

If you meet the criteria, you can apply directly on the bedrest website: http://www.medes.fr; online applications will be treated more rapidly.

You can also send us a short letter with your name, address, date and place of birth, your height, weight, and a short explanation of why you would like to take part.

The address is:

MEDES

BP 4200

31031 Toulouse cedex 4

France

We will send you an application file as soon as we receive your letter.

*Due to the small size of the subject group, gender variability has had to be eliminated to ensure significant statistical analysis.

For further information:

MEDES, Toulouse (France)



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