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04. December 2019

New project with German Aerospace Center (DLR) focusing on microcirculation during microgravity

  • Astronaut entering zero gravity conditions © DLR
    Astronaut entering zero gravity conditions © DLR

Imedos Systems GmbH, leading manufacturer of medical devices, cooperates with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) for a new project focusing on microcirculation during microgravity

Astronauts and jet pilots are regularly exposed to extreme situations that affect their health. In order to improve the safety of future expeditions, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is funding a research study starting in 2020 that focuses on the effects of microgravity on the central microcirculation of the human body. Under the project management of Prof. Dr. Dr. med. Christian Jung, Senior Physician of the University Clinic for Cardiology, Angiology and Pneumology in Düsseldorf, the DLR cooperates with the company Imedos Systems GmbH, a leading manufacturer of medical technology for retinal vessel analysis. Using the »DVA system« developed by Imedos Systems, high-precision images of the participants’ ocular fundus are taken and analysed as part of parabolic flights. Thus, direct insights into the behaviour of retinal vessels before, during and after weightless situations can be gained.

Dr.-Ing. habil. Walthard Vilser, CEO of Imedos Systems GmbH, welcomes the cooperation: »The aim of the project is to better understand the physiological adaptation processes of people in so-called borderline situations. We are pleased that our system for dynamic vessel analysis (DVA) can serve the health of crew members before, during and after space missions and flight manoeuvres in microgravity.« Imedos is one of six partners accompanying DLR’s project.

It has been repeatedly shown that pilots and astronauts experience various problems with their blood circulation when returning to planet Earth. The planned project »Changes in central microcirculation during microgravity« focuses on the blood flow of vessels with a diameter of less than 100 micrometres. As a result it should deliver new information to better describe the conditions of the human bloodstream and circulation while being in space. The flight manoeuvres and related tests are scheduled for 2020.

In preparation for the research study, a detailed analysis of the influence of microgravity on the part of the bloodstream that takes place in the large vessels such as the arteries was carried out by the team led by Prof. Dr. Dr. Jung. Here, the participants experienced microgravity for about 20 seconds during a series of parabolic flights. In the accompanying studies, a relevant influence of macrocirculation was found. The findings will now be transferred to microcirculation. Furthermore, it is important to examine whether the chosen diagnostic tools used for retinal microcirculation (particularly with regard to long-term stays) can improve the safety of future missions.