Stephen Riffle 10/26/2022 at 12:25 pm
In 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong made history as the first person to walk on the moon. As he put his left foot onto the ground, he said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
For more than half a century, NASA has been exploring space and making discoveries that not only impact our planet and the universe, but all of humankind. In 2000, NASA along with other space agencies, opened the International Space Station (ISS), which is home to the U.S. National Laboratory (ISS National Lab). This world-class lab focuses on advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, to make research breakthroughs not possible on Earth – to “boldly go where no man has before” (for all of you Trekkies!).
Part of the biomedical research underway on the ISS is the Tissue-Chips in Space initiative sponsored by NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The ISS National Lab provides an environment where researchers can study human health and diseases in microgravity, allowing them to isolate the effects of gravity from other factors that can impact cell function.
While in space, astronauts experience physiological changes that often reverse when they return to Earth. To mimic this, various types of tissue and organ chips, such as bone/cartilage, bone marrow, heart, kidney, lung and intestine, as well as those that model the immune system and blood/brain barrier (BBB), have been used to study the effects of microgravity on the human body. Currently, Brain-Chips are on board the space station to investigate the differences in cytokine production, BBB permeability and morphology that are involved in brain physiology, as well as disease and drug response. This summer, muscle and immune chips arrived at the lab to examine how microgravity impacts muscle loss and the relationship between immune aging and healing.
I’m curious to hear what you think of this far-out research. What kind of chips would you send to space and what would you hope to learn?
Stephen Riffle 10/26/2022 at 12:27 pm
Also, forgot to mention that last week I stumbled onto this paper while putting together a research roundup: Check it out and lmk if it prompts any thoughts, scientific or otherwise.
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