Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fruit flies aboard space shuttle subjects of UCF, UC Davis study on immunity and space

28.06.2006
Researchers hope to gain insights into how long space trips, such as missions to Mars, would affect astronauts' health

Fruit flies aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery will help University of Central Florida and University of California, Davis, biologists learn more about how prolonged stays in space could affect human immune systems.

The flies will need little care during their 12-day stay aboard the shuttle, which is scheduled to launch Saturday, July 1, from Kennedy Space Center. Astronauts will only have to replace their food tray once.

When the flies return to earth, Laurence "Laurie" von Kalm, an associate professor of biology at UCF, will work with Deborah Kimbrell, a UC Davis associate research geneticist, to evaluate their responses to bacteria and fungi and compare them to the responses of flies that did not go into space.

"The primary question being asked is whether the immune system is compromised from prolonged space travel," von Kalm said. "Are they more susceptible to infection than the flies that don't travel into space?"

NASA provided Kimbrell with a grant to fund the research, and Kennedy Space Center is providing a lab where von Kalm, Kimbrell and their colleagues will test the flies for two weeks after the shuttle returns. Scientists from NASA's Ames Research Center, Rice University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, are also part of the research team.

NASA's goal is to find out how extended stays in space, such as a trip to Mars, could affect the health of astronauts, von Kalm said.

Fruit flies can help NASA move closer to that goal because certain aspects of the genetic makeup of their immune systems and humans' are similar. Also, a 12-day stay in space qualifies as prolonged for fruit flies because they only live for about four to six weeks.

Kimbrell sought von Kalm's help because of his experience working with fruit flies and because of UCF's proximity to Cape Canaveral. Four of von Kalm's graduate students and a senior research assistant will join him at Cape Canaveral to conduct the post-landing tests.

Von Kalm, who began teaching at UCF in 1997, focuses most of his research on the effects of steroid hormones on the development of fruit flies. Because of their genetic similarities to humans, the flies provide a good model for understanding how steroids can affect the development of humans, he said.

The flies on the shuttle will travel in 10 small containers, each of which is about the size of a computer zip disk. Two separate groups of flies will be kept in a Kennedy Space Center research lab during the mission.

To help researchers rule out variables aside from gravity that could affect the flies, one group will be subjected to the same temperatures and vibrations experienced during space flight. The other group will be kept in normal room conditions.

The shuttle also will carry a small amount of a fungus known as "Beauveria bassiana," an approved organic pesticide that is not harmful to humans. Kimbrell, von Kalm and their colleagues will examine whether the reduced gravity makes the fungus more potent.

Flies will be exposed to fungi from the shuttle and fungi kept in a lab, a move that will help determine if various effects are results of the flies' weakened immune systems or the fungi becoming more virulent in space.

The future direction of Kimbrell's and von Kalm's research will depend on the results of the upcoming experiment and the level of cutbacks in funding for NASA's life sciences research.

The shuttle launch will be the second NASA mission in the last two months with ties to UCF research.

UCF optics professor James Harvey and two graduate students designed the Solar X-ray Imager on board the GOES-N satellite that was launched in May. The new X-ray telescope will help to improve the monitoring of weather activity such as hurricanes. It also will aid in monitoring and predicting space weather, which can disrupt cell phones, cause blackouts, interrupt airline traffic and damage or destroy instruments on multimillion-dollar satellites.

Chad Binette | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucf.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>