Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Microscopic passengers to hitch ride on space shuttle

29.08.2006
When space shuttle Atlantis rockets into space later this week, it will take along three kinds of microbes so scientists can study how their genetic responses and their ability to cause disease change.

The 'Microbe' experiment, part of the STS-115 space shuttle mission scheduled for launch Aug. 27, will study three common microorganisms -- Salmonella typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans -- that have been identified as potential threats to crew health. Sending these microbes into space will allow scientists to investigate the microbes' genetic adaptation and ability to cause infectious disease in microgravity, and to better understand the astronauts' space environment. The results of this experiment will help NASA scientists evaluate the risks to astronauts on future exploration missions planned to go to the moon and Mars.

"Spaceflight holds tremendous potential for the development of novel therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics to treat, prevent and control infectious diseases," said Cheryl A. Nickerson, Ph.D., the experiment's principal investigator and a researcher at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Tempe. "Our Microbe experiment will be the first to investigate the effects of spaceflight on the disease-causing potential and gene expression profiles of disease-causing microbes." NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., developed the Microbe payload for flight.

According to scientists, understanding human biological changes and microbial responses while living in enclosed quarters in space is important to the health, safety and performance of crewmembers and requires further study. The flight microorganisms, which may be carried to spacecraft on the human body and in water or food, have been identified as potential threats to astronaut health based on previous spaceflight missions. Microorganisms also are major causes of human illness on Earth, according to Nickerson.

Prior studies have indicated that spaceflight weakens the human immune system and that some microbes become more virulent when grown under conditions that simulate spaceflight, thus increasing the risk of astronauts becoming sick during flight. Whatever the mission or its duration, microbes are present where there are human beings.

This experiment will focus on investigating the effects of spaceflight on three microorganisms commonly found where human beings live. The results will be used in the risk assessment of crew environmental conditions, including drinking water and breathable atmosphere, to help prevent contamination and contagious infection while in space. Scientists also believe this research some day may benefit people on Earth by leading to new therapies to treat infection.

"This experiment requires only the minimum of space shuttle resources, but it has the potential to greatly advance infectious disease research in space and on the ground," said Steven Hing, the experiment's project manager at NASA Ames, in California's Silicon Valley.

With these 'bugs' already present or with the potential to be present in human-occupied spacecraft, this research is applicable to both current and future long-duration flights, Hing noted. Because the microbes will be contained in Group Activation Pack (GAP) hardware that provides three levels of containment, they will pose no threat of exposure to the astronauts. A total of 12 GAPs will fly on the upcoming mission.

"Spaceflight has been shown to induce key changes in both human and microbial cells that are directly relevant to infectious disease, including changes in immune system function, microbial growth rates, antibiotic resistance, and cell surface properties," explained Nickerson. "It is exciting to think of the potential benefit that research in space holds for translation to the clinical bedside by providing a better understanding of how pathogens cause disease that will lead to new ways to treat, prevent and diagnose infectious disease."

Joe Caspermeyer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asu.edu

Further reports about: Astronaut Infectious infectious disease microbes spaceflight

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Oestrogen regulates pathological changes of bones via bone lining cells
28.07.2017 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

nachricht Programming cells with computer-like logic
27.07.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Abrupt motion sharpens x-ray pulses

Spectrally narrow x-ray pulses may be “sharpened” by purely mechanical means. This sounds surprisingly, but a team of theoretical and experimental physicists developed and realized such a method. It is based on fast motions, precisely synchronized with the pulses, of a target interacting with the x-ray light. Thereby, photons are redistributed within the x-ray pulse to the desired spectral region.

A team of theoretical physicists from the MPI for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg has developed a novel method to intensify the spectrally broad x-ray...

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New 3-D imaging reveals how human cell nucleus organizes DNA and chromatin of its genome

28.07.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heavy metals in water meet their match

28.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Oestrogen regulates pathological changes of bones via bone lining cells

28.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>