The cure for cancer, seaweed and mouse: what else will be sent to the ISS in future missions?

If there are no returns, on June 28, the spacecraft company SpaceX Dragon goes to the ISS with new supplies for the members of the station crew, new equipment and new scientific experiments. For SpaceX, this launch will be the 12th this year and the 15th under cargo missions to the International space station. The portal Space.com told about the most interesting scientific experiments that will travel to the ISS this time.

“This is only a small part of the hundreds of other experiments that you plan to send in the new truck mission,” — quoted Space.com the words of David Brady, who is assistant head of scientific missions to the ISS from the Space center. Johnson of NASA.

Promising cure for cancer

TM4SF1 protein (highlighted in green) produced in large amounts by endothelial cells, which form the basis of the blood vessels. In a new experiment aboard the ISS will check the growth of endothelial cells and their reaction to new cancer drug

The experiment is called Angiex and its aim is to test tools that promises great prospects in the treatment of cancer. Scientists want to understand how microgravity behave the endothelial cells constituting the inner surface of blood and lymphatic vessels and how they respond to exposure of a new drug aimed at treatment of malignant tumors.

In terrestrial conditions, the vehicle showed its effectiveness in laboratory experiments on mice. The cure not only fights against tumor tissues, but also destroys the blood vessels supplying these tissues. The researchers explain that the effect of the means similar to the affected cells for heart attack and stroke. If the blood vessels feeding the tumor, will die — will die and the tumor itself.

Despite the proven efficiency of funds, scientists are not yet confident in the safety of the drugs. Because it affects how the cancer cells themselves and their supporting blood vessels, the creators of the media wants to make sure that their drug does not harm healthy blood vessels.

“We want to cure people of cancer and don’t want to while they died of cardiovascular disease caused by our medication,” says Paul Camine, one of the developers of the drug.

One of the difficulties of checking the effectiveness of the drug is that researchers have no suitable artificially created cell-culture models for the blood vessels. Therefore, in order to understand how to operate these vessels, scientists have had to conduct tests on living beings.

“To look inside these cells and consider all that we have, we can’t either. In this case, we can help the environment on Board the ISS. When these cells grow in microgravity, they conduct themselves will be about the same as they do inside these blood vessels on earth,” NASA said in a statement published on the page of the project.

Previous studies have shown that endothelial cells do not grow very well in space. However, scientists want to monitor the growth of cells in microgravity and their response to the action developed by them Lekarstva.

“It will be treatment of these cells. We will then see is the result of treatment in microgravity from the result of the ground test”.

Adapt to long space flight

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly worked with a mouse farm on Board the ISS in 2015. Within the new “mouse experiment” will be monitoring the microbiomes of rodents

Under the cargo mission CRS-15 the ISS will go a group of 20 laboratory mice. With the help of them the specialists from northwestern University (USA) want to find out how space conditions affect the microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract of rodents.

Located in the intestinal bacteria of every person and animal is able to have an impact on overall health. As space missions become more and more prolonged, and humanity is already thinking about how to begin to colonize deep space, it would be prudent to understand how space flights affect the human microbiomes.

“It’s hard to imagine a person who will be happy to dig into samples of feces” jokes Mar Vitaterne, a microbiologist at northwestern University.

“But trust me, we are one of those people”.

The specialist explained that the study of bacteria in samples of faeces of rodents will enable a better worked in, what bacteria good for the intestines and body as a whole. In addition, the researchers want to better understand the work of other physiological systems in microgravity conditions, which are known to be able to react to those or other state of the microbiome of the intestine. It is, for example, the immune system, metabolism, cardiovascular system, and the processes that affect our sleep hygiene.

The future of space food

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly (right) and Kjell Lindgren (center) with Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui trying the leaves are freshly grown in the space experiment red Veggie salad

As noted above, space missions are becoming longer, and in the future, we plan to go to other planets and in future there be occupied. Before to begin such a long flight for us, besides the obvious problems, like cosmic radiation, it is necessary to deal with power issues.Of course, you can take food with them, but ideally it is better to be able to grow it in place.

To experiment with growing fresh vegetables aboard the ISS was carried out repeatedly, and currently the space station is a portable greenhouse that allows you to grow fresh salad. However, in the future cargo missions to the station will bring more and algae.

Why algae? Scientists say that algae can be a potential source of food. In addition, they can be considered as raw material for biobased, that is, they can be used in the production of various materials such as plastic and paper.

Algae is able to grow even at a very low level of light appropriate for photosynthesis. In other words, they are perfectly suited for cultivation in orbit. They also have one disadvantage: most species of algae grow best in water. However, liquids in space behave quite differently, as they behave on Earth.

Scientists explain that the ISS crew will try to grow several kinds of algae within the “breathable” plastic bags, setting them in the portable greenhouse Veggie, located in the station. After this live algae samples planned to return back to Earth, where their research will take the biologists, who will try to determine which genes would contribute to the growth of this culture in microgravity. Understanding which genes are responsible for faster the growth of algae, scientists hope to create a special form that can be mass produce in space.

Better recycling

The ISS also take bacteria Shewanella. Most often this type of bacteria is found on the seabed, but can also be found in the soil. Most of the interest these bacteria present that they can grow on metal surfaces and to recycle organic waste (e.g., urine) into electricity.

Currently, work is underway on the use of Shewanella in biosecurity metal surfaces from corrosion. Also researches the use of these bacteria in the field of production technology of microbial fuel filtration elements.

The experiment on the ISS will be aimed at understanding how these bacteria and biofilm (the material on which to grow bacteria) will behave in microgravity. Thanks to the availability of access to three-dimensional image of the biofilm, which will be on the ISS, researchers will be able to continuously monitor and note any changes.

Why are scientists so interested in these microorganisms? Filters based on microbial fuel cells may one day become a great tool for wastewater treatment. With the ability to produce electricity, they can offset the costs in the cleaning water, producing energy in the process. As the duration of space missions increases, we need to increase the degree of self-sufficiency in their framework. According to researchers, microbiological processes can help us in this task.

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