Spaniard to be first diabetic space traveller

December 27th, 2008 - 1:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Vitoria (Spain), Dec 27 (IANS) A Spanish climber will become the first diabetic traveller to outer space in September next year, where scientists will conduct three tests on him as part of their efforts to try out a new insulin.Josu Feijoo, a native of the northern Spanish city of Vitoria, told EFE in an interview that he has volunteered on previous occasions for trials of new diagnostic techniques, including one that enables blood glucose levels to be transmitted to doctors in real time from anywhere in the world.

Feijoo has scaled Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak; Elbrus; Mount McKinley; the Vinson Massif in Antarctica and Mount Kilimanjaro. He still has two more peaks to conquer to complete his project of climbing the world’s seven highest peaks.

His space travel is being sponsored by a Spanish businessman he did not name.

In September 2009 Feijoo will board the spacecraft VSS Enterprise, owned by VirginGalactic, which will take off from the air force base in California’s Mojave Desert, and will reach an altitude of 135,000 metres.

In space he will take a new insulin for which trials have already been carried out on land with animals and with diabetic patients, who are able to inject themselves just three times a week instead of every day.

The effects of the medication last between 48 and 55 hours, and the idea is to determine whether it still continues to function in outer space.

Feijoo will board the ship with high blood glucose levels and will not inject himself with insulin until he is in space.

He will also test a new measuring device for blood glucose fitted with a tele-medicine system that every 15 minutes will transmit to the Earth the results of its analysis.

The third experiment will consist of extracting 10 mililitres (1/3 ounce) of blood to see whether protein levels vary in a weightless state.

Although he is not unduly worried, Feijoo has drawn up a will “just in case”.

He says that if the new insulin fails to work as it should, he has a sufficient margin of time until the spacecraft lands so that his life will not be in danger.

Diabetes is a physiological state in which the body is incapable of producing insulin that controls the level of glucose in the bloodstream. A patient in such a state needs external improvisation of insulin in the form of medication or injections. Diabetes is life-taking, if left untreated.

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