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Novel strategies for bone healing: spaceflight and beyond
Launching February 2017

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Led by Melissa Kacena, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the IU School of Medicine; Todd McKinley, M.D., Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the IU School of Medicine and Tien-Min Gabriel Chu, D.D.S., Ph.D., associate professor of restorative dentistry and orthopaedic surgery and interim associate dean for research at the IU School of Dentistry and in collaboration with NASA and the Department of Defense, orthopaedic research is going to the International Space Station as part of a mission on the SpaceX10 (scheduled for launch in February 2017). In the weightlessness of space, researchers will study novel and current bone healing therapies on mice.


Mission: Translate new discoveries in bone regeneration for osteoporosis (bone-loss), fracture healing and other bone disorders.

Long-Term Space Flights:  While the exact cause is not known, astronauts experience bone loss at a much greater rate than elderly people with osteoporosis.  In a single month in space astronauts lose the amount of bone that someone with osteoporosis loses in an entire year.   A better understanding of bone loss is important to  NASA as it plans for extended space flights such as the much talked about mission to Mars.

Healing Severely Injured Limbs:  Current therapy for severe bone injuries requires extended bed rest which is known to impair normal bone healing.  For the most serious bone injuries, the only treatment is sometimes amputation.  This research could lead to significant limb-saving treatments for those with severe bone injuries.  This has incredible implications for our military who are receiving severe explosive-related bone injuries in combat.

Visit Dr. Kacena's homepage.


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