Who can resist the headline, "Worms in space clarify muscle atrophy?" Futurity is reporting that a group of space tourist C. elegans worms, which received an 11-day, all-expenses paid stay at the International Space Station, may someday help us better understand muscle degradation:
Many of the worm’s 20,000 genes perform the same functions as those in humans so researchers wanted to study the effectiveness of RNA interference (RNAi), a tried and tested technique which regulates gene expression in diseased tissue, and whether this technique could be employed to reduce or control the dramatic muscle loss experienced by astronauts during spaceflight.
. . .The findings will not only be of use to astronauts but also to people suffering from waste of muscle due to illness and old age.
The research was recently published in PLoS ONE.