The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - June 22

Scientists in Udine are looking to outer space to find solutions to a timeless terrestrial problem: aging. A University of Udine team has just started an ambitious three-year project that aims to use space science to develop new therapies to "improve the life quality of the elderly population".

Space science is of interest to medical researchers because astronauts experience symptoms similar to those of aging when they are in zero gravity. These include heart and blood vessel changes, decreased bone strength, loss of muscle mass, immune-system weakening and loss of balance. The main difference is that these symptoms are temporary in astronauts. So space biomedical research could help improve understanding of the basic mechanisms of aging and lead to the development of countermeasures.

The production of "anti-aging drugs, transplant tissue and innovative medical equipment" are among the goals of the initiative. The project, entitled MoMa, is backed by the Italian Space Agency . The overall cost of the project is 30 million Euro. A slice of that money is going to finance doctorates and scholarships for young researchers, so the project will help to rejuvenate the Italian scientific community too.