Press Release

ESA is looking for female volunteers for a bed-rest study in Toulouse next year

By SpaceRef Editor
August 4, 2004
Filed under , ,
ESA is looking for female volunteers for a bed-rest study in Toulouse next year

In preparation for a 60-day Female Bed-Rest Study, which starts in
January/February 2005, an official call for candidates to participate as test
subjects has been issued. The study is a joint venture between the European
Space Agency (ESA), the French space agency (CNES), the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). It will be
carried out by MEDES, the French Institute for Space Medicine and Physiology, in
its clinical research facility at the Rangueil hospital in Toulouse, France.

The Bed-Rest Study will need 24 female candidates who will remain in bed,
slightly tilted head down at six degrees below horizontal, for a total of 60
days, to simulate the physiological effects of an extended period in
weightlessness as experienced by astronauts. Within the framework of various
research protocols, the study will assess the role of nutrition and physical
exercise in countering the adverse effects of long-duration weightlessness on
female astronauts.

So far little is known of how the female body is affected by weightless
conditions. This is because the majority of previous ground-based studies have
been carried out on male volunteers, and because relatively few women have flown
in space to date. The study will help advance knowledge of gender differences in
the experience of extended exposure to weightlessness.

The 24 test subjects will be split into three groups of eight. One will be the
control group, receiving no extra stimulus over the course of the 60-day
bed-rest period. The second group will undertake an exercise programme whilst in
bed during this time. The third will receive a nutritional supplement over the
course of the 60 days. For the 21 days prior to the 60-day bed-rest period, the
test subjects will take part in the collection of baseline data. During the 20
days following the bed-rest period they will undergo similar tests, for
comparison with the baseline data.

The research protocols come from a variety of international research teams
selected through strict review by international experts. These protocols will
assess the three groups to draw conclusions relating to specific areas including
muscle condition, blood parameters, cardiovascular condition, changes in immune
system, bone formation and psychological well-being. All research areas,
objectives and protocols of the study have been approved by the responsible
French ethical committee in Toulouse and will comply fully with all applicable
national and international laws and regulations.

With the European Space Agency’s future plans for human space exploration, the
results expected from this research will prove valuable in planning
long-duration human missions. This research will also have clinical significance
on Earth, advancing knowledge and pointing to improved methods to assist
recovery by bedridden patients, and providing countermeasures to conditions
associated with reduced physical activity.

Details of the requirements to be met by candidates, the conditions of
participation and the application to become one of the participants in the
Female Bed-Rest Study can be found at: Information can also be obtained by phone: +33 825 82 54 84 for international
calls (Euro 0.20/min) and 0 825 82 54 84 from inside France (Euro 0.15/min).

For further information please contact:

Franco Bonacina

ESA Media Relations Division

Tel: +33 1 5369 7155

Fax: +33 1 5369 7690

Peter Jost

Life Science Medical Doctor

Directorate of Human Spaceflight

Tel: +31 71 565 6612

Fax: +31 71 565 3661


Related links

* MEDES * Human Spaceflight website


[Image 1: ]
Bedrest study Toulouse (October 2001)

Credits: ESA

[Image 2: ]
Measurement of muscle performance and capacity. Subjects will be monitored
throughout and go through a medical check-up at the end of the study.

Beginning in September 2001, ESA, the French Space agency CNES and the Japanese
Space agency NASDA start a unique experiment at the MEDES Space Clinic in
Toulouse, France. Fourteen test subjects aged between 29 and 41 will spend three
months in bed to simulate the effects of long-duration Space Station missions.
Throughout the study, the subjects will have to undergo many investigations such
as tests during exercise, measurement of bone-density and magnetic resonance
imaging … This is the first ever long-term bed rest study with so many
scientific teams to be carried out in Europe.


SpaceRef staff editor.