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Columbia Shuttle to examine space effects for Hebrew University adult stem cell project


Genetically engineered adult stem cell cultures will be accompanying Israel’s first astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, on his mission aboard the U.S. space shuttle Columbia, as part of research being carried out at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The research focuses on building new, specialized cells through the use of adult stem cells, using techniques of genetic engineering. The technology is based on isolating adult stems cells taken from bone marrow and converting them into bone, cartilage or tendon cells by introducing specific genes into them.

The research is being carried out by Prof. Dan Gazit of the Skeletal Biotechnology Laboratory at the Hebrew University Faculty of Dental Medicine. Prof. Gazit and his wife Dr. Sulma Gazit, are guests of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Agency and will witness the launch of the space shuttle Columbia, scheduled for today.

The shuttle crew will examine the influence of weightlessness on the creation of bone cells in space as compared to the development on earth. The findings are likely to have bearing on understanding the mechanisms involved in development of osteoporosis in astronauts and also the molecular influences involved in creating bone cells in space and on earth.

Among those who are participating in this research, along with Prof. Gazit and his wife, are: Dr. Yoram Zilberman, Dr. Gadi Turgeman, Dr. Gadi Pelled, Prof. Avi Domb, Prof. Iri Liebergall and doctoral students Yossi Gafni and Hadi Aslan.


The following people may be contacted for further information on the experiments in space regarding stem cells:

Dr. Gadi Pelled – 054-780262

Prof. Avi Domb – 02-6757573, 051-987427, 02-9938295

Dr. Yoram Zilberman (also speaks Russian) – 054-382892.

On issues related to astrophysics regarding the space shuttle – Prof. Zvi Piran, 02-6584233.

Jerry Barrach | Hebrew University

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