Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Medicines Lose Effectiveness In Space

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the take-27-of-these-call-me-in-the-morning dept.

Medicine 116

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists at the Johnson Space Center have shown that the effectiveness of drugs declines more rapidly in space. Engineers are working on a project which could bring space travel to the general public but experiments suggest that the health hazards facing astronauts may be greater than previously thought. Astronauts on long space missions may not be able to take paracetamol to treat a headache or antibiotics to fight infection, a study has found. I wonder if diseases are also affected?"

cancel ×

116 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Eveything in limbo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847290)

Maybe everything procrastinates in space.

Funded by pharmaceutical companies ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847292)

Is this study funded by pharmaceutical companies ?

Re:Funded by pharmaceutical companies ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847562)

From TFS:

Scientists at the Johnson Space Center have shown that the effectiveness of drugs declines more rapidly in space.

And for the ignorant, that's not Johnson as in Johnson & Johnson, it's Johnson as in Lydon B Johnson; it's a NASA facility.

Re:Funded by pharmaceutical companies ? (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 2 years ago | (#35849838)

Is this study funded by pharmaceutical companies ?

It must be. When NASA astronauts have a headache, they are prescribed paracetamol which cost millions of dollars to develop. Russian cosmonauts, when faced with the same problem, use a pencil.

Re:Funded by pharmaceutical companies ? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#35849868)

Yea, because willow bark tea is so high-tech.

Without a definite reason... (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847344)

From TFA:

The research team investigated whether the unique environment of space - including radiation, excessive vibrations, microgravity, a carbon dioxide rich environment and variations in humidity and temperature - affected drugs' effectiveness.

How about putting them in a box?

Apart from radiation I don't see how the other environmental issues are unique to space.

How would microgravity affect chemical compounds? We've known for a while about bone decalcification and muscle atrophy but I always ascribed such things to the fact that astronauts aren't standing on solid ground or exercising as they are on Earth. It's not as though the proteins and whatnot in their bodies are discombobulating while they're up there, is it?

Re:Without a definite reason... (3, Insightful)

cpghost (719344) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847412)

How about putting them in a box?

Exactly. And if microgravity is a problem (I fail to see how it could be), put that box in a small centrifuge to create constant 1g.

Re:Without a definite reason... (1)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 2 years ago | (#35850646)

Exactly. And if microgravity is a problem (I fail to see how it could be), put that box in a small centrifuge to create constant 1g.

Please explain to me how this would work. The point is for it to experience microgravity. How do you spin something so that it constantly counters the Earth's gravity? If the axis of rotation is perpendicular to the direction of g, you end up with 1.4g at 45 degrees off the axis of rotation. If the axis is in line with g then you end up with 0g at the top of the rotation and 2g at the bottom.

Re:Without a definite reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35850804)

Comment was about putting the centrifuge in space to keep things at 1g, not on earth to approximate a microgravity environment.

Re:Without a definite reason... (4, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847428)

That throbbing red circle you see on the TV adverts for pills actually becomes cone-shaped in space. This means the pill atoms are the wrong shape to be effective. Redesigning them would be prohibitively expensive even for NASA.

Plus, they're very hard to swallow in microgravity.

Re:Without a definite reason... (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847474)

Plus, they're very hard to swallow in microgravity.

Fine, then take it intravenously, or as a suppository (seriously), or as drops under the tongue, or as a liquid suspension. There are a number of ways to make drugs as easy to take (in space) as eating/drinking anything else.

Re:Without a definite reason... (2)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847614)

Intravenous has serious issues in space (controlling drops of blood, air in the tubes, etc).

Suppositories could work, but I'm not closely familiar with them - granted we (as in humanity as a whole) do have expertise in Japan however where they are significantly more popular then in the rest of the world.

Re:Without a definite reason... (2)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847842)

In dutch a suppository is also know a "poepsnoepje" or "ass-candy." True story.

Putting in a suppository would be really awkward in a place with little or no privacy and it seems to me like it would be a little difficult to perform in microgravity too, unless you're willing to have a colleague do it.

Re:Without a definite reason... (1)

SilverAlicorn (986453) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848764)

Somehow I think that if a team of astronauts is spending several months together in a cramped, hot, strange-smelling canister, eating together, sleeping together, working together, and going to the bathroom together, taking a suppository isn't a big deal.

Re:Without a definite reason... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#35850630)

Reads as "poop snoop" to those not too familiar with your messed up language. I love dutch :D.

Re:Without a definite reason... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35848114)

IV injection/infusion is do-able. I helped design and fly an experiment with a modified IV infusion pump (Imed Gemini PC-2) and specially modified IV bags and infusion sets (tubing) that demonstrated the procedures on STS-40 (Spacelab Life Sciences-1) and STS-47 (Spacelab-J).

Administering sublingual liquids is much more dicey in microgravity.

There's significant changes to physiology in microgravity, a lot of that associated with the short-term effects of fluid shift and excretion, and still other aspects caused or affected by long-term microgravity exposure (the fluid shift is complete in a week or so). There are changes in caloric requirements, bone demineralization, catabolysis, and other effects, all of which redefine "normal" in microgravity, and differentiate it from "normal" in a 1G field.

Re:Without a definite reason... (2)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847892)

Plus, they're very hard to swallow in microgravity.

No, they're not. Swallowing is not driven by gravity, but by the peristalsis of the smooth muscles in the throat. You can even swallow 'upwards' on Earth, but since you have gravity the muscles need to fight, it's going to feel kinda weird.

Re:Without a definite reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847966)

That throbbing red circle you see on the TV adverts for pills actually becomes cone-shaped in space. This means the pill atoms are the wrong shape to be effective. woosh!!

Re:Without a definite reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847944)

Not to rain on anyone's parade, but parent looks like a troll post to anyone who really understands the subject. When you swallow something, it isn't gravity that takes it to your stomach - you have muscles which do that. Don't believe me? Tie a big knot on the end of a (digestable, non-toxic) string and swallow it. (Don't actually do this unless you seriously don't believe me.)

Re:Without a definite reason... (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35848092)

NO! Bad Mods! Bad!

When you mod a 'funny' post 'interesting' to give the poster some karma points, you do something else that has some serious unintended consequences:

You give the wrong impression to certain, how shall I say it, very impressionable, persons. They think you're serious. Then they post silly things. It's so messy and unnecessary. Remember folks, Mod points are power! Use the wisely.

Or leave them to the pros.

Re:Without a definite reason... (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848296)

Plus, they're very hard to swallow in microgravity.

In which case you'd expect it to be hard to sallow anything in that environment. Which would pose some bigger problems than taking pills. Just as well that humans are mammals rather than birds :)

Re:Without a definite reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847462)

I don't think Microgravity would be a problem as the quantum mechanics of atoms will work no matter where they are in this universe. (Except, perhaps, at a black hole)

Re:Without a definite reason... (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#35849238)

quantum mechanics is HARDLY the only physical property which applies to human biology...

Here is another reason (1)

burni2 (1643061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847574)

- highly sophisticated filtering systems | CO2 recylcing | UV-light ( for killing germs ) | water treatment ( preventing water from getting brackish)
by this -> a decline or thinning out of the variaty of germs

recent research indicates that having a cleaned/near sterile living area makes people more susceptible to allergy, perhaps similar effects happen could happen
in space also ..

- biological experiments conducted in space ( bacterial cultures )

Re:Without a definite reason... (1)

Kurofuneparry (1360993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847618)

How would microgravity affect chemical compounds?

We needn't think that microgravity affects chemical compounds to explain this. Many more gross physical quantities are often dominant in the effects of drugs. For example, bioavailability (absorption) of drugs can dominate with digoxin, aspirin etc. Thus changing GI motility is a big issue and could be affected by a lack of gravity. We STILL don't know how our GI tract separates gas from liquid and this could easily be gravity dependent.

Other systems dependent on gravity include veins (the return of blood is gravity dependent especially in the legs) and lymphatic pumping (which is mainly motivated by eccentric/isometric or various contractions of the muscles that occur less in space. For many drugs the limiting factor is proper dispersal in the body (e.g. haloperidol, NSAIDS, antibiotics). Then again, I'm an idiot medical student.......

I Really Hope Their Doing Ground Control Tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847788)

Rather than just comparing to published results or data shared with the government by FDA studies and the like.

Re:Without a definite reason... (2)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848294)

Well, yeah, the bones in their bodies are "discombobulating" while they're up there, just like they do here on earth. The issue is that the body rebuilds bone in proportion to how much stress is placed on it. There's less stress in microgravity, so the "rebuilding" rate constant is lower than on Earth.

In general I'd see the whole human body as a great big bundle of equilibria between opposing processes. It sounds like Aristotelian philosopy but actually this "homeostasis" approach was the central theme of my 1998 medical textbook. Whenever one of the rate constants is altered a little, it's very possible that the body will go out of whack.

It seems reasonable that microgravity could affect a whole bunch of rate constants to do with medicine absorbtion.

Because I did not RTFA... (0)

ittybad (896498) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847346)

With no medical background, no research performed (not even a simple Google search), and not even reading the article: In my expert opinion, I believe that perhaps it has something to do with circulation. Gravity may be a crucial element to our circulatory systems and our circulatory systems are important for medication distribution in our bodies.

Re:Because I did not RTFA... (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847434)

i thought it was implied in the summary, but to make sure I read TFA and just as I thought: the article refers to degradation of drugs in storage, not to being less effective in the body. So, your theory, while nice, is irrelevant in this case.

what about low Gravity like the moon and mars? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847380)

what about low Gravity like the moon and mars?

this may make having people there long term alot harder.

Re:what about low Gravity like the moon and mars? (1)

skywatcher2501 (1608209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847402)

And what about artificial gravity? Would it undo these effects, or is there another factor I've overlooked?

Hahaha Hohoho (0)

no-body (127863) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847408)

This joke makes my day: "General Public" - Pffffff!

Re:Hahaha Hohoho (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847508)

General Public, Major Disaster, Corporal Punishment, Ensign Nada, Captain Obvious, Private Parts, Commander Taco - they're all pretty funny. Oh, wait - you meant something else?

space tourists (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847410)

space tourism is will supposedly become a reality in the next few years thanks to sir richard branson and virgin galactic. What about those people who are on anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, ritalin, etc? Will they be banned for the protection of the spacecraft, themselves, and everyone in it? Considering how many people are on medication these days, I suspect this would significantly restrict the number of eligible passengers

Re:space tourists (1)

skywatcher2501 (1608209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847504)

It will probably depend on how long they'll stay up there. Virgin Galactic plans are only for a few minutes of weightlessness.

Re:space tourists (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848174)

Only a few minutes of zero G? What if my wife and I take longer than that to, uh, "complete our mission"?

Re:space tourists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35848818)

Only a few minutes of zero G? What if my wife and I take longer than that to, uh, "complete our mission"?

Don't worry they have a pill for tha.....oh, wait.

Paracetamol = Acetaminophen (Tylenol) (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847450)

For those of us wondering, here in the United States.

Re:Paracetamol = Acetaminophen (Tylenol) (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35849010)

For those of us wondering, here in the United States.

Thanks. I already worked that out when it said 'to treat a headache'. I also don't complain about typos for the same reason.

Re:Paracetamol = Acetaminophen (Tylenol) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35851372)

Well, something 'to treat a headache' could have been ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, aspirin, naproxin sodium, caffeine, etc, etc. Personally, I always use ibuprofen, because acetaminophen doesn't really do much for me.

Re:Paracetamol = Acetaminophen (Tylenol) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35850530)

if you're over the age of 30 an aren't sure what APAP is you should probably take a month or so off an read some books.

News? (1)

seven of five (578993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847452)

With 50 years of manned spaceflight, presumably carefully watched-over by physicians, how could this possibly be news?

Re:News? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847512)

First response when presented with a long term health issue, put the patient on the first available returning transport?

Not so much a option if one is halfway between Earth and Mars...

Re:News? (1)

Kurofuneparry (1360993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847666)

The job of NASA's physicians was to not allow astronauts into space if they were at all unhealthy. Even a suspicion of a coming flu was enough to ground an astronaut from a mission they'd spent years preparing for. Thus, medication has rarely been required in space and tests in space have always been limited and expensive. Then again.... I'm an idiot.....

BUT THEN YoU CAN'T HEAR THEM SCREAM EITHER !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847468)

So it's a draw. After all, if you can't hear them scream, who cares if they die a horrible death because the flesh-eating microbes just ate the gonads ??

I pity the foolish microbes that ate their balls (0)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847804)

So it's a draw. After all, if you can't hear them scream, who cares if they die a horrible death because the flesh-eating microbes just ate the gonads ??

If there's going to be any ball-eating, Mr. T [flamesgif.com] is going to be the one to do it.

Paracetamol tablets? (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847490)

If we're talking about those little white pills, they're basically just a solid mix of medicine and some sort of binder usually packed in one of those foil/plastic packages that at least looks to be airtight, right? So logically it must be radiation, but how could you easily shield against the kind of radiation that would penetrate into the station's interior? Medicine storage crates with thick lead lining?

Re:Paracetamol tablets? (2)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847520)

One thing to keep in mind is that the same chemical protein have different effects depending on how it is folded...

Re:Paracetamol tablets? (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847556)

Microgravity can cause proteins to fold differently? Or radiation? I thought radiation just "smashed" protein chains.

Re:Paracetamol tablets? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848562)

just saying that things that look the same chemically can behave differently for non-chemical reasons.

Re:Paracetamol tablets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847544)

Spacecraft traditionally have surprisingly low radiation shielding, as do even the highest flying planes. this is due to the weight cost of the shielding, the risk is not too high as you get a relativity low dose but it is an issue, especially for cabin crew going on regular on transatlantic flight. For this reason the ISS is beneath the earth's magnetic protection and actually grasses the top of the atmosphere. This is not a solution that can be used on a Mars trip although I have herd of suggestions I do not know enough to judge their practicality.

Re:Paracetamol tablets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847548)

Tech note: paracetamol is known in the US as acetaminophen, that is, Tylenol.
The drug has two generic names, for some odd reason.

Re:Paracetamol tablets? (2)

Kurofuneparry (1360993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847654)

As I responded elsewhere in the comments:

We needn't think that microgravity affects chemical compounds to explain this. Many more gross physical quantities are often dominant in the effects of drugs. For example, bioavailability (absorption) of drugs can dominate with digoxin, aspirin etc. Thus changing GI motility is a big issue and could be affected by a lack of gravity. We STILL don't know how our GI tract separates gas from liquid and this could easily be gravity dependent.

Other systems dependent on gravity include veins (the return of blood is gravity dependent especially in the legs) and lymphatic pumping (which is mainly motivated by eccentric/isometric or various contractions of the muscles that occur less in space. For many drugs the limiting factor is proper dispersal in the body (e.g. haloperidol, NSAIDS, antibiotics). Then again, I'm an idiot medical student.......

Re:Paracetamol tablets? (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847692)

I only have HS equivalent chemistry/biology knowledge, but I can see how the mechanics of the body could affect medicine dispersal/absorption. But it does not matter in this case since they sent the medicine back to earth before testing. I don't know what the word "potency" means in this case, but even if they did test them on people/animals it wouldn't have mattered.

Re:Paracetamol tablets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35848180)

You may only be a medical student but this is a good set of explanations. There's more to it, but there's litle solid information unless you can track down some of the work by John Charles, or Carolyn Huntoon.

They're not airtight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35849034)

They're not airtight, exactly. Water can get in through the plastic section of the blister and degrade the drug even under Earth storage conditions: there's a reason why nicorandil has a desiccant included in its blister pack, and Persantin (dipyridamol/aspirin) can't be packaged in blisters (it has a 6-week shelf life even with its desiccant packaging).

The only reason that isn't regarded as a problem on Earth is most drugs aren't prone enough to hydrolysis for it to matter.

So what? (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847496)

If you're going on a long space trip, what are you going to get sick from? If everyone on board is still healthy after a week or so, you're all set. Outer space contains far less microbes and viruses than the typical earthly supermarket, afaik.

Re:So what? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847506)

a contaminated food supply? poor filtration in the drinking water?If it is a long voyage tehn growing your own food also comes with it's own problems.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35847510)

Not all diseases are contagious. What if someone develops a thyroid issue and needs levothyroxine. Perhaps their blood sugar starts rising and they need metformin or insulin? What about blood pressure?

Most medications are maintenance meds; not to treat contagious diseases.

Re:So what? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847752)

Not all diseases are contagious. What if someone develops a thyroid issue and needs levothyroxine. Perhaps their blood sugar starts rising and they need metformin or insulin? What about blood pressure?

When every gram of cargo needs to be budgeted for, with our current level of technology, getting people out into space who will develop these conditions can only be seen as a failure of the screening process. Unfortunately for some of us would-be space adventurers, there are enough near-perfect humans who are qualified and eager to be astronauts.

If this still happened anyway, we'd probably carve out some space for the meds on the first re-supply ship, but it seems very doubtful we'd send more than the bare necessities on the initial voyage.

Re:So what? (2)

GPSguy (62002) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848244)

Um... but such changes CAN occur. One of the developments for the Crew Healthcare System included the ability to use available water supplies from stored, or recycled water, to make intravenous solutions, using fluid concentrates (we tried, but the powdered chemicals just don't disolve well and have to be manipulated). The system used a multiple-component water pass-through purification system to prodce at least 50 Mohm water that had also been subjected to ultrafiltration, to assure cellular contaminents such as endotoxins were removed. The system did not use high pressure or heat sterilization, and was demonstrated to meet US FDA and USP standards for ultrapure water for injection, and intravenous fluids.

Water reuse for long-duration spaceflight missions is already achievable, with only the stigma of using recycled water for drinking and medical uses remaining as a potential problem. The processed water is considerably cleaner than anything you'll drink in a conventional water supply, and certainly better than the tap water at Cape Kennedy.

Treat Infection? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847516)

You're in space. If you haven't gotten the infection before you came on, you're not going to get sick from the microbes in space. You're pretty much in a quarantined area.

Granted if you have say heart problems you might need your pills, but otherwise there's no real bacteria to worry about.

Re:Treat Infection? (3, Informative)

Kurofuneparry (1360993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847642)

If you haven't gotten the infection before you came on, you're not going to get sick from the microbes in space.

This is not true. From a relevant Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] : The human body, consisting of about 100 trillion cells, carries about ten times as many microorganisms in the intestines. Any of this including the most benign cyanobacteria can lead to major infection. In fact, not taking in sufficient bacteria from the environment can be a cause of disease. It's an old disproved myth that "Avoiding illness is as simple as avoiding microbes."

Additionally, this doesn't account for latent diseases like herpes and many other viruses. Then again ..... I'm an idiot in medical school ......

Re: I wonder if diseases are also affected? (4, Informative)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847558)

A: At least one is.

Salmonella in Space Get Even Nastier
http://www.space.com/6481-salmonella-space-nastier.html [space.com]

Re: I wonder if diseases are also affected? (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847576)

I will purposefully refrain from reading the article you linked to, so that I can put forth the image of vomit and sudden outbursts of diarrhea being nastier in zero gravity.

Re: I wonder if diseases are also affected? (1)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847628)

And that makes me think of the wet burp:

Space Beer Reaches for Final Frontier
http://news.discovery.com/space/space-beer-reaches-final-frontier-110303.html [discovery.com]

Surely any beer can be consumed in space, right? Wrong. Not only would the launch costs be astronomical to get a crate of Stella into orbit, it's a physical impracticality to consume any carbonated beverage in space.

Why? Zero-G has a rather nasty side effect of the "wet burp" phenomenon.

Think about it, what happens when you swallow a mouthful of beer on Earth? It goes down your throat and sits in your stomach. Gravity ensures the fluid stays in your stomach, allowing the carbon dioxide bubbles to expand and rise to the top of the fluid. You can then sit back and let out an impressive burp to impress your friends as the carbon dioxide is vented out of your mouth.

Now try doing that in space.

There's little gravity to keep the fluid in your stomach, but you still need to vent that carbon dioxide that is expanding inside your belly. You try to burp.... but you end up venting the carbon dioxide, beer, and whatever else was inside your stomach through your mouth and nose. This, my friends, is called a "wet burp"; an explosive near-vomit experience guaranteed to gross out anyone who has the misfortune to be floating around with you.

Re: I wonder if diseases are also affected? (0)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848136)

So you're saying tequila and Mexican food should probably be banned in space?

Re: I wonder if diseases are also affected? (1)

GPSguy (62002) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848256)

Yes. Some bacteria become mor virulent when incubated in a microgravity environment.

Gravity Does Matter (2)

cychem1 (942136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847702)

Radiation and other such environmental factor certainly would affect the "shelf life" and effectiveness of all molecular compounds., so in this case packaging and storage would have to be controlled. Apart from these concerns the way molecules travel through the GI tract, the blood stream , the blood brain barrier and in fact all cells is most likely affected by gravity, so that micro gravity certainly would cause these factors to be different and likely produce unpredictable results. It should also be noted that drug metabolism and cell signaling pathways are also likely affected by microgravity and increased CO2 levels.

The simple answer is that we just don't know because the data set is very limited. The real solution would be to do more research in these environments because it is just as likely that while negative effects may be observed positive beneficial results are just as likely and may lead to a new and fundamentally different understanding of drug and cellular function.

Re:Gravity Does Matter (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35848122)

If it's affecting the shelf life of medicine, isn't it also affecting the shelf life of human beings? I'd be a lot more concerned about the latter than the former.

Paracetamol effective? for what? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847726)

perhaps they should re-evaluate the effectiveness of Paracetamol on earth first.. That crap has never done squat for any of my headaches ever*. Curse the Reye Syndrome scare of my childhood making my parents think that Tylenol was the only safe pain reliever when I was a kid. Safe, perhaps, but useless. Also, from what I've read.. It's really not that safe, either...

*yes, I realize this has a sample size of one person (though many headaches...). Can anyone say it's worked for them?

Re:Paracetamol effective? for what? (1)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848216)

Paracetamol is the only thing that ever did anything to me.

Ibuprofen is worthless to me, it doesn't do anything but make my guts bleed.

When I think some idiots rave about how good ibuprofen is, to me it is quite junk.

Re:Paracetamol effective? for what? (1)

vorpal22 (114901) | more than 2 years ago | (#35849456)

It works for me, and not only does it work, but it's the only common non-prescription pain reliever that I can take due to the fact that I have Crohn's Disease. Ibuprofen and ASA are both known to increase the likelihood of Crohn's flareups and cause issues in Crohn's sufferers.

Furthermore, I went through a period where I was extremely ill and bed-ridden for about three years. Many days I had fevers of 102-104F. Tylenol brought it down to a much less incapacitating 100-101F. If I have a headache, 600 mg of acetaminophen / paracetamol is enough, generally, to get rid of it completely for me.

I would much rather take oxycodone / hydromorphone / something similar :D, but for day to day minor pain and fever, acetaminophen works very well for me.

No paracetamol? (2)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847732)

Ok, then just take acetaminophen instead!

Paracetamol ? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 3 years ago | (#35847858)

We get it, you're european. Very trendy. Couldn't you have just said "aspirin" ?

Re:Paracetamol ? (1)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35848018)

Why would they? They're the British BBC, Paracetamol is far more common in the UK than any other over the counter analgesic; do you think they care about an American (I'm guessing) Slashdoter's inferiority complex?

(I realise I didn't contribute anything pertinent to the discussion but I couldn't help myself.)

Re:Paracetamol ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35848512)

also they're not the same thing. paracetamol is also the standard description for acetomenophen in australia. whereas aspirin is the generic name for diacetylsalicylic acid

Re:Paracetamol ? (1)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848152)

Acetaminophen is the american name for paracetamol (the international name)

Re:Paracetamol ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35848368)

Paracetamol is acetaminophen (Tylenol), not acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin).

Re:Paracetamol ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35848740)

We get it, you're european. Very trendy. Couldn't you have just said "aspirin" ?

He couldn't have said aspirin instead of Paracetamol as they're different things. Paracetamol is acetaminophen, not aspirin. Thus the dreadful joke "Why is there no aspirin in the jungle?" "Because paracetamol.", and the better one by Ossifer above.

Re:Paracetamol ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35848762)

Because... It's not the same thing? Aspirin is C9H8O4 and paracetamol C8H9O4 . But if you want we can use the american name: acetaminophen. Way better...

Re:Paracetamol ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35848914)

They could, but then they'd be WRONG. Paracetamol = Acetaminophen. Very much not the same thing as aspirin

Re:Paracetamol ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35849590)

Tylenol/acetaminophen, not aspirin.

Re:Paracetamol ? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#35849798)

because it is Tylenol !

Re:Paracetamol ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35849890)

Paracetamol (or acetaminophen) has nothing to do with aspirin.

Re:Paracetamol ? (1)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 2 years ago | (#35850112)

Yeah, except those two are two different things.

Re:Paracetamol ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35850726)

goddamnit.

paracetamol is APAP which is acetaminophen. NOT aspirin.

The old standbye (2)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35848082)

Give 'em a tube of chicken soup, they'll be alright.
Give em a marijuana brownie for anything not covered by the soup.
Quit worrying about it.

Re:The old standbye (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 2 years ago | (#35849706)

Or just tell them to space-walk it off.

Re:The old standbye (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#35850194)

Yeah, the sissy-pants! In our day we had to take the helmet off in mid walk just to clear the dust off the screen before anti static cover. I bet the lil girls would complain about a little decompression. No wonder the Russkies beat us going up. They did it on baling wire , duct tape and a tin can and landed on their asses in Siberia instead of a cozy girlie splash down. :P

Question: (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35848112)

Who exactly are astronauts in space going to contract an infection from? How did Captain James T. Kirk solve the problem of space-acquired STDs?

Re:Question: (2)

GPSguy (62002) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848292)

While I can't speak to Kirk's problems, the Shuttle isn't a sterile environment. It is kept as clean as possible, mainly because they don't want any more particulate contamination to fly, and get circulated in microgravity than necessary, but you can't get rid of all of it, Historically, on Shuttle, they set up a fan between Middeck and Flight Deck, in the starboard access area, and used a filter on the inlet side. It captured fine particulate matter... and pens, etc., that were dropped or otherwise lost by the crew on-orbit. It all ended up, eventually, in the filter.

Also, while there's a 2-week quarantine period preflight, there are SOME diseases where the incubation period is longer than that. In those cases, isolating the crew for 2 weeks wouldn't catch the problem.

Russia have most experience in long stays in Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35848222)

Using medicines in Space have more issues, not mentioned in this article - in Space there is relatively closed water cycle. If one of the Cosmonauts/Astronauts is taking medicines, soon or later the others will start to take it too. At least in the past, Russians have experimented with (considered controversial by the official science today) a kind of electro-puncture. The one of the known devices is called Scenar (most of the information comes from commercial sites, but take a look here - http://www.alternative-doctor.com/specials/scenar.htm)

Re:Russia have most experience in long stays in Sp (1)

GPSguy (62002) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848452)

A lot of the Russian experience, at least when I was active in Space Station stuff and the Russians were still flying Mir, had small populations, n=1-5. You cannot draw significant conclusions very easily from samples that small.

Electrophoresis is a reasonable drug delivery system for SOME agents, but not all.

Radiation (1)

sm4096 (1104499) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848362)

Could it be radiation that is affecting the body and causing it to operate in a state where the drugs have not been built for?

eugenetic 'vaccines' still killing 1000's per day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35848656)

talk about effective? of course, how many space based deaths remains unproven. the good news, & there always is some, is that our enemies think that any vaccine, is a good vaccine, so they drink the stuff like water. also, we're finding that when the poor mommies come in for their narcotics prescriptions, if they are given 100$, they will let the druggist inject all the babies they have with whoknoswhat(patentdead) chemicals of mass reduction. so that takes care of that.

some take 'there can be only one' too seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35848830)

they do at that.

A grave issue indeed (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#35848990)

So what are they saying, that gravity is actually the best antibiotic? In that case, we should all move to Jupiter.

More ancillary benefits from the space program. (1)

Spykk (823586) | more than 2 years ago | (#35849234)

Tired of spending so much money on the drugs that keep you healthy? Buy half as much and then relax in our therapeutic centrifuge for double the drugs effects!

Other impacts on astronaut health (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#35851184)

In the wake of the recent events in Japan, I've been reviewing serious information on radiation dosage and effects such as that at http://mitnse.com/ [mitnse.com] .

That's gotten me to think further on a rarely-mentioned impact on astronaut health, and that's the "risk" of persistently higher levels of radiation - it seems that in actuality persistently higher radiation exposures (up to 200x normal background levels, for example) actually INCREASE human health (to a point, obviously), and extend lifespan.

(Notice no mention of this in popular media accounts of the effects of radiation...http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/16/health/la-he-japan-quake-radiation-20110316)

I would just find it ironic that if, after so much concern for the health and safety of astronauts in regards to radiation, that we might find that they are healthier and live longer than we poor terrestrials.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>