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MERCK/PENN STATE SPACE FLIGHT COMPLETED

 MERCK/PENN STATE SPACE FLIGHT COMPLETED
 STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The NASA Space Shuttle


Columbia glided to Earth at Kennedy Space Center on Sunday, Nov. 1, ending the space odyssey of 12 rats involved in a Merck/Penn State project to test the ability of an experimental compound to prevent bone loss.
 The experiment is a collaboration of scientists from Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK), West Point, Pa., and Penn State's Center for Cell Research, a NASA Center for the Commercial Development of Space.
 Before the shuttle was launched Oct. 22, half of the rats were treated with the new compound; the untreated animals are controls. Urine, blood and tissue samples from the rats will be examined to determine whether the loss of bone mass that occurs in low gravity can be prevented with the experimental drug.
 The project was the second physiological systems experiment (PSE-02) ever to be conducted aboard the shuttle. These experiments use microgravity-induced biological effects to test pharmaceutical products or to discover new therapeutic agents. Bone loss is one of the biological effects caused by microgravity. PSE-02 is testing the ability of the Merck compound to slow or stop bone loss. The compound being tested in PSE-02 is currently in human clinical studies as a treatment for osteoporosis associated with menopause.
 /delval/
 -0- 11/3/92
 /CONTACT: Barbara Hale of the Center for Cell Research, Penn State, 814-865-2407, Roy Walker of Merck & Co., 215-652-3680, or Barbara Selby of the NASA Office of Commercial Programs, 202-358-1983/
 (MRK) CO: Merck & Co., Inc.; Penn State University; NASA ST: Pennsylvania, Florida IN: MTC SU:


CC -- PH015 -- 2116 11/03/92 14:19 EST
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Date:Nov 3, 1992
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