Gap Micro-201: Evaluate the contribution of changes in microbial numbers, types, and virulence on the likelihood and consequence of adverse health events (infection and allergic response), during the mission.
Last Published:  07/30/21 01:05:31 PM (Central)
Responsible Element: Human Health Countermeasures (HHC)
Status: Open
Description
Present state of knowledge: Present state of knowledge: Microbes on Earth contribute to infectious diseases as well as allergies. Previous studies have indicated an alteration in microbial virulence associated with culture in the spaceflight environment. Alterations in the astronaut immune system have also been identified. Little data are available on the actual increased risk of disease due to these factors. While microbes might undergo changes under the conditions of spaceflight, those changes may not be of concern if they do not increase the likelihood or consequence of adverse health events such as infection or allergic reactions. At this time, the contribution of any microbial changes previously described to an increased risk of infectious disease or microbial-associated allergic response is unclear. Ongoing studies evaluating the astronaut microbiome suggest changes in the astronaut skin and gut microbiota, but no conclusive pattern has been determined due to the limited sample size. Additional samples are being analyzed in multiple spaceflight experiments and under the HRP Standard Measures program.

Research approach: HRP plans to fund studies via solicited and directed mechanisms, using flight and analog data, including but not limited to: 1) Retrospective data mining to evaluate incidence and severity of infections during previous flight and ground isolation/confinement missions; 2) Prospective monitoring during Gateway and Lunar missions; 3) Modeling of microbial changes vs. adverse health events (infections and/or allergies); 3) Health outcomes in immune-deficient animal models exposed to spaceflight-altered microbes (initiated).
Target for Closure
Likelihood and consequence data to understand the risk and identify whether there is a need for countermeasures.
Mappings
Risk Risk of Adverse Health Effects Due to Host-Microorganism Interactions
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Multi-Disciplinary Research Plans

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