Advertisement

NASA funds $750,000 to bone and muscle mass research in Augusta

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 6:26 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully landed on Mars. Now, many are hopeful that putting a man or woman on the red planet is next.

And there’s NASA-funded research for it happening right here in Augusta. And it’s coming with a $750,000 grant.

The lack of gravity up in space poses issues to astronauts who lose bone and muscle mass. But this new research is geared to help them, but they say this could also help everyday people here on earth.

If you take a look around the office of Dr. Meghan Mcgee-Lawrence office, you can see she’s a NASA fan and an expert on bones.

Lucky for her, she’s been able to combine the two in her research. She’s a biomedical engineer at the Medical College of Georgia.

“What we want to know is, how does bone know that it’s being mechanically loaded? And can we then alter those processes to either prevent disuse induced bone loss or to make the bone respond better to exercise,” Mcgee-Lawrence said.

For those of us who don’t speak in science lingo: when astronauts float through space, they aren’t putting pressure on their legs. This can cause them to lose bone and muscle mass.

“So, with bone, they lose about one percent of their bone mineral density per month. And when you lose bone mass, that makes you more likely to experience a bone fracture,” Mcgee-Lawrence said.

With all the excitement around the Mars rover landing, this research could help the first astronauts who step foot on the red planet.

But for us earth dwellers, this research could also help people who are bedridden or wheelchair-bound.

“So even somebody with a spinal cord injury, even though they may not be using their legs, they still move around. And you can develop a bone fracture even if you’re not walking around or using those bones. You can get it from a contact injury, it could be a fall injury,” Mcgee-Lawrence explained.

They say the impacts here go far beyond Earth, but they’re hopeful it could still help those of us who choose to remain residents of this planet.

The MCG says the grant will allow them to continue research for the next three years, but they’re hopeful they’ll get more grants after that--to keep their study going.

Copyright 2021 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.