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Personalized, Preventive, and in Space

Omics approaches may help "develop personalized countermeasure packages that optimize the safety and performance" of astronauts, write Michael Schmidt from MetaboLogics and Thomas Goodwin from the NASA Johnson Space Center in a review published online in Metabolomics.

In particular, they focus on how biochemical differences between astronauts may be assessed and used to find ways to protect them from the medical hazards of spaceflight.

"Humans in space are at risk of a variety of ailments, from brittle bones caused by low gravity to cancer triggered by cosmic radiation," notes the New Scientist. "Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) already take supplements to counteract ill effects, such as vitamin D for bone strength."

In their review, Schmidt and Goodwin envision that potential astronauts with certain genetic predispositions could take, for example, folate supplements to head off vision issues or undergo phlebotomy treatments to keep iron levels low, as iron is linked to a number of health issues in space. In addition, prevention of adverse drug reactions or overdoses by knowing CYP2D6 status of the astronauts —back pain, treated with painkillers and exercise, is a common space malady — would be a boon as "there is no hospital en route to Mars," New Scientist adds.