Nugevity recently entered into a collaborative research agreement with the US Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton. Together, Nugevity and NAMRU-Dayton are investigating the oxidative damage experienced by NASA spaceflight crew members aboard the International Space Station. The project, titled CURIOX, will improve our understanding of how stressors may impact human health and performance. The research will help steer future development of dietary agents and other technologies to support pilots and warfighters.
Oxidative damage is harm done to cells and tissue when the body cannot keep up with the production of free radicals. NASA crew members and other pilots are at risk because of their increased exposure to space radiation and other stressors. It is believed that significant exposure to these oxidants can put humans at an increased risk of vision loss, cognitive disruptions, certain cancers, and more. Currently, there are no FDA-approved supplements or other countermeasures available for combating oxidative damage.
“The timing is right for us to better understand the impact of these oxidative stressors, not just on astronauts but also on Earth-bound individuals,” said Carlos Montesinos, Chief Scientist at Nugevity. “For example, we know that pilots – particularly pilots who fly polar routes – are exposed to many of these oxidative stressors because there is a lot more cosmic radiation that filters through at the poles. These individuals could potentially be exposed to the same types of long-term health effects as an astronaut.”
In the past, Nugevity scientists have worked with NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to develop nutritional technologies and enhance astronaut health, both during space flight as well as Earth-bound training. Nugevity prides itself on designing ethical dietary solutions of the highest quality as well as its dedication to advancing research. Its standards are so high, in fact, that NASA awarded the company a Space Act Agreement.
Nugevity strives to work with reputable organizations to conduct research and examine ways to improve human health, which is why it has partnered with the US Department of the Navy on this most recent project. NAMRU-Dayton is a major Department of Defense medical research command, as well as the home of the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory and the Environmental Health Effects Laboratory. Located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, NAMRU-Dayton conducts aerospace medical and environmental health research to enhance warfighter health, safety, performance, and readiness.
Dr. Karen Mumy, Director of the Environmental Health Effects Laboratory at NAMRU-Dayton and Co-Principal Investigator on the project states, “NAMRU-Dayton is excited to partner with Nugevity and the Department of Defense's Space Test Program (DoD STP) Office to better understand the role that radiation and oxidative stress play in space operations and flight. NAMRU-Dayton will assist in identifying and understanding biomarkers of oxidative stress, and also help in the development of potential countermeasures to support the health and performance of crewmembers and warfighters.”
The collaboration between Nugevity and NAMRU-Dayton on the oxidative damage research project is more important now more than ever considering the International Space Station will reach the end of its lifespan soon. A lot of the data Nugevity and NAMRU-Dayton are analyzing comes from the ISS. Currently, the ISS program is set to end in 2024, so now is the time for organizations to take advantage of the available research. The information collected from the collaboration will not only help determine the best ways to keep pilots and warfighters healthy, but it will also be vital to future space missions.
“The goal is to go back to the moon, establish a base and eventually get to mars. You’re talking potentially a three-year mission where you’re exposed to radiation,” said Montesinos. “We need to understand what that radiation exposure will be and how to mitigate it.”
In conclusion, Nugevity’s collaboration with NAMRU-Dayton shows a commitment to the advancement of science and to improving human health. The two organizations will be working together over the next several years to learn more about the impact of oxidative damage facing space flight crews and other pilots.