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EPB-ESA project: CHOICEe

Living in extreme isolation such as on Antarctic research bases is a unique opportunity for ESA to study human adaptation from a psychological and physiological point of view, thus contributing to advance knowledge needed to safely embark on long-duration human exploration missions. Space research has been conducted in the polar regions for years – offering conditions on Earth similar to longduration space travel. Since 2001, ESA has been cooperating with the French Polar Institute (Institute Paul Emile Victor, IPEV) and the Italian Antarctic Programme (Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide, PNRA) on a number of human research activities at the Antarctic station Concordia, covering research areas such as coping with stress, changes in the immune system, and alterations in circadian rhythms. Through one of those ESAselected experiments (implemented both on Concordia as well as on the German Neumayer II station in three subsequent winter-over seasons under the lead of Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Choukèr from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany), observations from immune assays have been made that the overwintering crews are becoming significantly more susceptible to the outbreak of autoimmune diseases and/or allergic reactions. These observations complement findings reported by NASA on ISS crewmembers, where the occurrence of newly developed allergic type reactions is increased. Therefore the CHOICEe team have developed the hypothesis that isolated, confined and extreme conditions trigger sensitivity reactions. This project is undertaken with the cooperation of EPB Members’ polar bases and their respective winterover crews to participate to a web-based survey with the aim of systematically collecting data on the occurrence of allergic incidences