Crewmembers on space flight missions use medications to treat space flight-associated conditions like space adaptation syndrome as well as common ordinary complaints. They do so under the remote guidance of their flight surgeons, who base prescriptions on their knowledge and experience in terrestrial medicine. However, even after decades of space flight missions, it is unknown if medications act the same in the space flight environment as they do on Earth. Aspects of the space flight environment (low gravity, radiation exposure, closed environment, stress) have been shown to alter human physiology. Some of these physiological changes could be expected to alter either pharmacokinetics (PK), how the body absorbs, distributes, metabolizes and excretes administered medications or pharmacodynamics (PD), receptors or signaling systems that are the targets of medication action. Anecdotal data has suggested that, at least for certain medications or indications, inflight medication efficacy is poor, and space flight crew use high doses, repeated doses, or even experience apparent treatment failures. Fortunately none of these episodes has been serious enough to cause injury or evacuation from low-Earth orbit (LEO). However, in order to prepare for exploration missions where speedy evacuation to Earth may not be a possibility, the likelihood of unexpected medication action must be determined. This study aimed to determine if the LEO environment of the International Space Station (ISS) alters the actions of two common medications, a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic and an antibiotic.
This study had the following specific aims:
- Determine PK for medication frequently used by crewmembers in two different environments: on Earth and during a space flight mission.
- Determine space flight versus ground differences in medication-associated effects on sleep, wakefulness, and several measures of cognitive function as measures of pharmacodynamics.
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Investigators aimed to measure PK for two medications used by crewmembers in two different environments: on Earth and during a space flight mission. Circulating concentrations in the bloodstream were going to be measured over time after medication administration, permitting modeled estimation of absorption rates and metabolism/excretion rates. Same-subject comparisons using pre-flight and post-flight test sessions will permit measurement of same-subject variability that will provide a baseline for determination of clinically relevant changes during space flight. Space flight versus ground differences in medication-associated effects on sleep, wakefulness, and several measures of cognitive function was going to be used as measures of pharmcodynamics.
This study ended before data was collected from crewmembers. A final report containing EEG evaluations was archived. No datasets are available.
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.
The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health
and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration.
Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity,
and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors,
and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify
the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific
Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.
The Human Research Roadmap is located at: https://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/
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for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.