IHRF Part Of NASA Research Team On Microgravity-Induced IH
October 5, 2011- IHRF’s co-founder, Emanuel Tanne, M.D. and three of its Scientific Advisors—Conrad Johanson, Ph.D., Steven Katz, M.D and Michael Williams, M.D.— were appointed earlier this year to a special group of researchers and clinicians at NASA dealing with the problem of microgravity-induced intracranial hypertension and papilledema that some astronauts develop after arriving in space. IHRF has been a consultant to NASA since 2003, a role that has included clinical trial testing of non-invasive pressure monitoring technology developed by the space agency.
A widely published study by NASA in recent weeks has focused public attention on the problem for the first time. Intracranial hypertension in astronauts is thought to be caused by a fluid shift in the body upon reaching microgravity. One concern is the development of papilledema and vision difficulties or loss during a mission.
In the NASA study, researchers investigated the issue and the potential vision impairment that does not always reverse on returning to Earth. According to a NASA spokesman, approximately 35 percent of its former space station crew members, who typically spend about six months in orbit, experience visual acuity issues. Another concern is the length of time in space and whether that affects the development or progression of vision issues.
In February 2011, IHRF attended a NASA conference in Houston, Texas that was held to plan and design research projects involving microgravity-induced IH and papilledema, and the discovery of the disorder’s origins.
The IH Registry, with its Neuroimaging Library and donor program, is of particular interest to NASA since it remains the largest collection of medical data on chronic IH patients in the world and a vital research tool to help answer questions about the disorder’s pathogenesis, development and how it might be prevented. It may also provide clues as to why some astronauts develop microgravity-induced intracranial hypertension and papilledema. Enrolled and confirmed IH Registry patients may, if qualified, have an opportunity to participate in research studies, as well.
IHRF is committed to moving IH research forward and to finding better, more effective treatments and a cure. The opportunity to continue working with NASA toward the significant goal of understanding and preventing IH, stands to improve the lives of IH patients everywhere. The Foundation is pleased to be part of this effort to help our country and all who are affected by IH.
The complete NASA study will be reviewed in our next In Sight newsletter.