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EDITORIAL
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 8  |  Page : 165--166

Extra-terrestrial neurosciences

Krishnan Ganapathy 
 Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation, Apollo Main Hospital, No. 21, Greams Lane, off Greams Road, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Krishnan Ganapathy
Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation, Apollo Main Hospital, No. 21, Greams Lane, Off Greams Road, Chennai - 600 006, Tamil Nadu
India




How to cite this article:
Ganapathy K. Extra-terrestrial neurosciences.Neurol India 2019;67:165-166


How to cite this URL:
Ganapathy K. Extra-terrestrial neurosciences. Neurol India [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Jun 24 ];67:165-166
Available from: http://www.neurologyindia.com/text.asp?2019/67/8/165/259118


Full Text

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It is a sign of the times that the future ready Neurology India has deemed it appropriate to bring out a special supplement on 'Extra -Terrestrial Neurosciences'. The initial motivation to write an article on neurological changes in outer space [1] was the announcement [2] by the Indian Space Research Organisation that India would be sending a manned mission in the Low Earth Orbit. The sceptic would consider this supplement an overkill, particularly when there is an acute shortage of neurologists and neurosurgeons in our country.[3] However, we need to recall that at least 1770 innovations have been attributed as spin-offs from work done by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)[4] in making human space travel a reality. Today's residents in neurosciences will eventually benefit from what is now considered esoteric. All the contributors to this issue are die-hard space enthusiasts with a solid scientific research background. For earth bound clinicians, these articles will emphasize the role of simulation studies and its ultimate extrapolation to management of clinical problems in outer space. Nearer home, the many new questions raised from constant exposure to zero gravity makes us think out-of-the-box and question even fundamental issues in science. Ever since clinical neuroscience became a reality in the late nineteenth century, we have until very recently, never even thought about the influence of gravity on the central nervous system (CNS).

A report in the media that astronauts aboard the International Space Station are working on the crystallization of a compound related to the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene, (which has the greatest known genetic contributon to Parkinson's disease) under microgravity conditions with the expectation that this will eventually contribute to the management of Parkinsonism, indicates that even 'Space Neurosciences' will become a reality.

Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to go beyond earth's gravity, has shared his views on the critical role of “Space doctors”. Russell Andrews, a senior neurosurgeon and Advisor, Nanotechnology and Smart Systems, NASA Ames Research Center, USA, has commented on the 'Fallout of space technology for neurosciences on earth'. Setting the tone, Krishna Kandarpa et al., give an overview of the effects of microgravity, radiation, isolation, disturbance in circadian rhythms and the hostile environment in space on various biological systems. Behavioral problems in a long-duration spaceflight have been discussed by Doarn et al. Effects of micro-gravity and other space stressors in immunosuppression and viral reactivation with potential nervous system involvement has been highlighted by Vivek Mann and his team. Interestingly, bacteria and fungi have been isolated from the International Space Station.

Mader et al., have done outstanding in-depth studies on major changes in intracranial pressure that occur in long-duration space flights. This has now resulted in the diagnosis of a newly confirmed clinical entity, SANS (Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome). Space motion sickness has been observed in 70% of astronauts within the first 72 hours of exposure to microgravity. Thais Russomano, who has personally participated in parabolic flights, has elaborated on this. The possible CNS changes during inter-planetary missions have been discussed by Frantzidis. The importance of animal models for simulation studies on earth has been well brought out by Christiane Nday. Hammond et al., have reported on the electromyographic (EMG) findings in a Martian gravity simulated environment. The article on cellular changes in the nervous system when exposed to gravitational variation by Dr. Alamelu Sundaresan completes the supplement.

It has been a privilege to conceptualize and put this supplement together. I would like to once again place on record our gratitude to all the contributors for tolerating my most unreasonable demands!

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1Ganapathy K, da Rosa M, Russomano T. Neurological changes in outer space. Neurol India 2019;67:37-43.
2Available from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/science/indias- first-manned-space-mission-to-send-3-persons/articleshow/65576098.cms. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 23].
3Ganapathy K. Distribution of neurologists and neurosurgeons in India and its relevance to the adoption of telemedicine. Neurol India 2015;63:142-54.
4Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_spinoff_technologies. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 23].