01.05.2019 change 01.05.2019

Opolskie/ Medical leeches from Namysłów qualified for space research

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Medical leeches from the farm in Namysłów have been included again in the research related to space missions at the Lunares scientific base located in the former military base in Piła.

The purpose of the Lunares base is to simulate the conditions, which the crews of space missions can experience. This is the only place of its kind in Europe, where scientists from several countries conduct research, the results of which may be used, for example, during manned flights to Mars.

Another research season began in mid-April; medical leeches from the farm in Namysłów will be an object of research for the second time. During the previous season, as part of the international program ICAres-1 (Innovative Concepts Ares), researchers investigated the possibilities of transport and reproduction of leeches under microgravity. Scientists believe that leeches, which are natural factories of active compounds used in medicine, can significantly help people during long-distance space travel.

According to Dr. Aleksander Waśniowski, extreme medicine expert from the University of Medical Sciences in Poznań, renewable and self-sufficient sources of food and medicine, natural production lines, are currently the direction of space research closely related to the potential colonization of new environments, and the use of medical leech is part of this trend.

Doctor of medical science and biologist Agata Litwinowicz, an expert in practical use of leeches for human treatment, shares this view.

"Leeches can find many applications in space missions, in solving astronauts` health problems. One of the most difficult problems is impaired lymph circulation in the body due to the lack of gravity. Muscle atrophy, which is a serious problem in the state of weightlessness, adds to this phenomenon. Compounds found in the saliva of leeches have an anticoagulatory effect and dilate blood vessels, which improves the condition of the circulatory system and the lymphatic system" - says Dr. Litwinowicz.

"In addition, a large amount of endorphins secreted by leeches would improve the mood and mental condition of astronauts" - Litwinowicz adds.

In the third year of operation of the Lunares base, research will also be conducted by specialists from the Pomeranian Medical University who will check the effect of lyophilisates on the formation of plaque and the development of bacterial flora in the oral cavity. Research in the Lunares base is conducted under the honorary patronage of the Polish Space Agency.

PAP - Science in Poland, Marek Szczepanik

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