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D. A Study Focuses on the Causes and Prevention of Astronaut Bone Loss

Narrator: This is Science Today. Astronauts who spend long periods of time in the weightless environment of space experience what's called skeletal unloading, or rather, a loss of bone. This happens because in space, they lose the ability to make enough new bone cells to replace ones that die during the regular course of bone metabolism. When they return to Earth, astronauts are highly susceptible to fracture.

Long: We've decided to see if there's ways in which we could prevent some of this skeletal loss of unloading.

Narrator: Roger Long, a research fellow at the University of California , San Francisco , is one of three scientists chosen by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute to study the causes and possible prevention of this bone loss.

Long: In particular, some of the past research has indicated that one of the hormones involved in bone growth, which is IGF-1, that there's some resistance in the bone. Some don't seem to respond to IGF-1 and we're trying to figure out what what we could do to the bones in order to regain that response.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.