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Myotones Experiment – Dieter Blottner Group

Charite in Space | Space Medicine Experiment of Charité Scientists to fly with the German Astronaut Alexander Gerst to the International Space Station (ISS) in Summer 2018

In summer 2018 a space life science experiment from scientists of the Berlin Center of Space Medicine at the Charite Berlin will fly with the German ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst on his next 6 month mission to the ISS. The MYOTONES experiment lead by Professor Dieter Blottner (Principal Investigator), head of Neuromuscular System Group at the Charite Center of Anatomy and his team for the first time investigates the effects of microgravity on resting muscle tone and related fascia and tendon structures that shape the human resting muscle tone (HRMT) system. Normal muscle tone is a likely indicator for regular health status that is apparently changed in clinical populations due to disuse, pain, inflammation or some injury (known as muscle firmness, rigidity or tiredness). Altered muscle tone in clinical practice is usually determined by inspection and subjective palpation. Limited information is available if microgravity causes changes to the resting muscle tone that is recoverable by appropriate inflight exercise during a mission and MYOTONES will be tested pre-, in-and post-flight.

When launched to Space ESA Astronaut Gerst travels with a small handheld MyotonPRO device sized of a smartphone for non-invasive digital palpation of muscle onboard the ISS (right photo shows device during a calf muscle measurement on the ground, credit D.B.). Onboard the ISS, astronautes will perform several measurements on the muscle of their free floating body. The probe of the device is positioned to premarked skin points over a given superficial muscle. In this way, muscle tone data are collected automatically muscle by muscle and immediately stored by the device almost in realtime. Ultrasound images will be also collected to document the anatomical configuration of muscle itself, tendon, fascia, and other soft tissue components from the same skin point region. All data (biomechanical and ultrasound) will be downlinked and analysed by the scientific team on the ground. Data interpretation includes key biomechanical parameters such as resting muscle tone, elasticity and stiffness or image analysis of biological soft tissue dimensions. Data from the astronautˊs HRMT system in space can be used by the scientists to monitor muscle health of crew during a mission.

The expected findings from the MYOTONES experiment in coming years first of all will improve basic knowledge of physiological adaptation mechanisms to support normal resting muscle tone on the ground and in future long term missions to deep space habitation (Moon, Mars). The objective data collection with the user-friendly digital palpation device used for MYOTONES probably has the potential to improve clinical practice standards in the near future related to dysgenesis of infantile muscle (muscle dystrophy) or other acquired diseases (paralysis), to apparently healthy populations (fitness monitoring), injury in sports, orthopaedic surgery, neuro-rehabilitation (M. Parkinson,  stroke, nerve lesions, muscle diseases), as well as to aging mechanisms (sarcopenia, deficits in sensomotory performance). MYOTONES is an international cooperation between EU scientists sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), UK Space Agency (UKSpace), German Space Agency (DLR e.V., Bonn), German Federal Department of Economics and Technology (BMWi/DLR) grant #50WB6044 (to D.B.), and Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin. www.charite-in-space.de

DAILYSTAR

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/world-news/672033/space-fever-exercise-astronauts-body-temperature

Astronauten fiebern im Weltraum – ORF

http://science.orf.at/stories/2887614/

Visit to the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá, Colombia

Dr. Martina A. Maggioni visited the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá, Colombia, to hold a series of lectures on the topic of “Cardiac Autonomic modulation in Extreme Environments: from Earth to Space” for the Annual Seminar of Physiology, hosted by the local Faculty of Sciences and the Department of Physiological Sciences.

She received a very warm welcome from Prof. Ignacio M. Zarante, Head of the Department of Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, and has been assisted during her visit by Dr. María José Fernández Sánchez, MD., MSc, Internist and Pneumologist, Professor of Physiology, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana – Hospital San Ignacio.

She had the chance to visit the Physiology labs and the Medical Faculty and also to start new collaborations.

From the left: Dr María José Fernández Sánchez, Dr. Martina A. Maggioni and Prof. Ignacio M. Zarante

Pontificia Universidad Javeriana is a Jesuit University established in 1623 in Bogotá and for this reason one of the most traditional institutions in Colombia. Currently, it has 18 Faculties and 181 academic programs, including the Master of Biological Sciences and its Research Line in Physiology.

This visit is part of the Graduate Program of the Faculty of Sciences, leaded by Dr. Alba Trespalacios, and was funded by the Colombian agency ICETEX of the Ministry of National Education. The program is addressed to make alliances with the main Research Centers around the world and each year it hosts a new international guest professor.

Taking advantage that Bogotá is one of the most populated cities settled above 2600 meters asl, and surrounded by mountains of 3.200 m of altitude, this alliance opens the door to a new series of studies about human physiological adaptation to high altitude.

Main entrance of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

During the Lecture at the Main Hall of the Medical School of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.

With part of the Team at the Physiological Sciences  Department

A continued study: The Yukon Arctic Ultra 2017

The Yukon Arctic Ultra 2017 has started in Whitehorse – Yukon on February 05th at 10:30 a.m. pacific time!
For the third time, we are investigating physiological changes in participants of the Yukon Arctic Ultra 430 mi runner-category. This time, the team from the “Center for Space Medicine Berlin” consists of Dr. Mathias Steinach and Doctoral Candidate Adriane Schalt. All baseline-measurements in Whitehorse went fine. A total of n=10 enthusiastic participants were recruited for this study. The weather at the start this time was at a pleasant -27°C. The study is again joined by Dr. Robert Coker and his team, from the “University of Alaska” as he provides equipment to also allow blood-analysis – again a great example for our international scientific collaboration, even under such extreme environmental conditions. Needless to say that we want to express our gratitude to the organizers, volunteers and of course our athletes of the Yukon Arctic Ultra 2017!

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The “Science-Squad”: Adriane Schalt (Center for Space Medicine Berlin), Sheri and Robert Coker and Michelle Johannsen (all three University of Alaska Fairbanks) and Mathias Steinach (Center for Space Medicine Berlin).

 

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Again, the “Yukon Arctic Ultra” traditionally follows the “Yukon Quest” dog-sled-race.

 

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Athletes have to prove their capabilities to bivvy quickly…

 

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… and to make a fire during a pre-race outdoor testing-course.

 

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Baseline-measurements in Whitehorse.

 

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Collecting blood from Yukon Arctic Ultra “Veteran” Enrico Ghidoni.

 

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Pre-race-dinner the night before the race.

 

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The participants of this years’ Yukon Arctic Ultra study.

 

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Start of the 2017 Yukon Arctic Ultra in Whitehorse YK, February 5th 2017.

 

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Processing the blood-samples.

 

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Checking the status of the athletes as the race progresses.

 

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Checkpoint in Braeburn (100 mi).

 

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Checkpoint in Carmacks (173 mi).

 

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Always (!) plug in your vehicle if you want it to start the next day. Temperatures in Carmacks have now dropped to a mere -37°C (Wed, Feb 8th).

 

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Study-participant Enrico Ghidoni as he just arrives at the Carmacks-checkpoint (Wed, Feb 8th, 12:15 p.m.).

 

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As always: stunningly gorgeous landscape in the Yukon!

 

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…but very cold… (notice the ice resulting from frozen breath in just an one-hour-hike)…

 

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…really very cold…
Greetings from the Yukon!