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Drugs in Space

The effects of long-duration space flight on the body are not yet understood. Space flight causes a number of physiological changes, which in turn, have the potential to alter how administered medications act on the body. For example, it is possible that the enzymes that ordinarily metabolize administered medications (and result in their inactivation and removal from the body at a normal rate, thus determining the circulating concentration of active drug) may work at a different speed in the space flight environment and result in unusual circulating concentration. Increased exposure to cosmic irradiation is one environmental factor associated with space flight that can affect the body, and it can be successfully modeled in ground experiments. The Pharmacology Laboratory is working with space radiation investigators at USRA's Division of Space Life Sciences to measure changes in the expression of drug-metabolizing enzymes in mice that have been exposed to small amounts of radiation. One aim of this study is to provide NASA flight surgeons with information to help them optimize medication dosing protocols for the crew members they treat.