University experiment shortlisted for space flight

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A University of Liverpool study aimed to investigate skeletal muscle ageing in microgravity has been shortlisted as a possible experiment to take place on the International Space Station (ISS).

In December last year the UK Space Agency invited a number of academic teams to provide proposals for experiments for flight on the ISS.

A team from the Muscle Research Group headed by Professor Malcolm Jackson, Director of the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA) based at the University’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease together with colleagues from the School of Engineering submitted a proposal to study skeletal muscle ageing in the very weak gravity (microgravity) of the orbiting space station. This idea was reviewed by the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency for feasibility, scientific merit, fit to UK priorities and outreach opportunities.

'fantastic opportunity' 

The team's proposal has now been shortlisted and they have been invited to submit full details of the proposed experiment which will be fully reviewed before the final selection.

Professor Malcolm Jackson, said: “We are very pleased to have been shortlisted. Our proposal is based on previous work by my team that has shown that age-related deficits in muscle are linked with an inability of muscle from older people and animals to respond appropriately to exercise.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for us to investigate if a similar failure occurs in muscle exposed to microgravity, to aid understanding of the underlying mechanisms that affect muscle in the ageing population.”

Libby Jackson, Human Spaceflight and Microgravity Programme Manager, said: “The large number and high quality of ideas received in this initial round is a testament to the strength of the microgravity community here in the UK.

"I am very excited to see the full proposals and give the scientific and academic communities this opportunity to get their experiments to the International Space Station.”

For more information about CIMA please visit https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/ageing-and-chronic-disease/cima/