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latent viruses: a space travel hazard??A major issue associated with long-duration space flight is the possibility of infectious disease causing an unacceptable medical risk to crew members. Our proposal is designed to gain information that addresses several issues outlined in the Immunology/Infectious disease critical path. The major hypothesis addressed is that space flight causes alterations in the immune system that may allow latent viruses which are endogenous in the human population to reactivate and shed to higher levels than normal which can affect the health of crew members during a long term space-flight mission. We will initially focus our studies on the human herpesviruses and human polyomaviruses which are important pathogens known to establish latent infections in the human population. Both primary infection and reactivation from latent infection with this group of viruses can cause a variety of illnesses that result in morbidity and occasionally mortality of infected individuals. Effective vaccines exist for only one of the eight known human herpesviruses and the vaccine itself can still reactivate from latent infection. Available antivirals are of limited use and are effective against only a few of the human herpesviruses. Although most individuals display little if any clinical consequences from latent infection, events which alter immune function such as immunosuppressive therapy following solid organ transplantation are known to increase the risk of developing complications as a result of latent virus reactivation. This proposal will measure both the frequency and magnitude of viral shedding and genome loads in the blood from humans participating in activities that serve as ground based models of space flight conditions. Our initial goal is to develop sensitive quantitative competitive PCR- based assays (QC-PCR) to detect the herpesvirus Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and the polyomaviruses SV40, BKV, and JCV. Using these assays we will establish baseline patterns of viral genome load in the blood and viral shedding from normal volunteers in a longitudinal study over I year in length. As a comparison, we will measure patterns of viral genome loads and shedding from individuals who are severely immunosuppressed, in whom herpesvirus reactivation or primary infection with a herpesvirus is known to cause complications. In addition, we will proceed to testing ground based analogs in collaboration with Dr. Duane Pierson (Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center). This will include measuring samples obtained from individuals living and working in the extreme environment of Antarctica. We expect to detect viral shedding or reactivation from most of the test groups, although the magnitude of shedding or reactivation cannot be predicted. The data accumulated from studies in this proposal should allow us to evaluate whether events that simulate certain aspects of space flight reactivate viral infections severe enough in nature that they may compromise the success of long-term space flight missions. These studies will also provide a foundation to monitor viral reactivation and shedding from crew members participating in actual space flight missions. We will present data showing the establishment of our QC-PCR assay for detection of EBV.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Ling, P. D.
(Baylor Coll. of Medicine Houston, TX United States)
Peng, R. S.
(Baylor Coll. of Medicine Houston, TX United States)
Pierson, D.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX United States)
Lednicky, J.
(Baylor Coll. of Medicine Houston, TX United States)
Butel, J. S.
(Baylor Coll. of Medicine Houston, TX United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Publication Information
Publication: Proceedings of the First Biennial Space Biomedical Investigators' Workshop
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20000020485Analytic PrimaryProceedings of the First Biennial Space Biomedical Investigators' Workshop
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