Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Final space shuttle to carry 5 CU-Boulder-built payloads

06.07.2011
The University of Colorado Boulder is involved with five different space science payloads ranging from antibody tests that may lead to new bone-loss treatments to an experiment to improve vaccine effectiveness for combating salmonella when Atlantis thunders skyward July 8 on the last of NASA's 135 space shuttle missions.

One experiment, sponsored by the global pharmaceutical companies Amgen and UCB, will test an antibody to sclerostin -- a protein that has a negative effect on bone formation, mass and strength -- on lab mice flying on the shuttle. Researchers on the project hope the sclerostin antibody treatment will inhibit the action of sclerostin.

The research team hopes the findings may lead to potential therapeutic treatments for astronauts, who suffer significant bone loss during spaceflight, especially on long-term missions. They also might provide insight for future research in the prevention and treatment of skeletal fragility that may be caused by stroke, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury and reduced physical activity. Amgen is headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Calif., while UCB is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.

There are seven co-principal investigators on the sclerostin antibody experiment, including Louis Stodieck, director of CU-Boulder's BioServe Space Technologies and a faculty member in the aerospace engineering sciences department. The research team includes a second CU-Boulder co-principal investigator, Assistant Professor Virginia Ferguson of mechanical engineering, an expert in biomaterials, including bone.

A second payload, called the Recombinant Attenuated Salmonella Vaccine, or RASV, will allow scientists to search for novel gene targets for vaccine development and improvement using the low gravity of space. The principal investigator on the experiment is Associate Professor Cheryl Nickerson of Arizona State University.

The RASV experiment will be carried aboard Atlantis in sets of specially designed fluid-processing cylinders built by BioServe known as GAPs, said Stodieck. Each GAP holds eight test-tube-like devices that allow Salmonella and growth media to be mixed in space. Astronauts will operate the experiments using hand cranks to first trigger cell growth via fluid mixing and later to terminate it.

A third payload will allow researchers to examine genetic alterations spurred by cellular changes in yeast. Since some cells have been shown to undergo significant changes in microgravity -- like producing larger quantities of rare antibiotics or making large amounts of bioactive medicinal proteins -- the team will analyze 6,000 different genetically altered yeast strains aboard the payload to identify specific genes that are linked to such space-based changes. This knowledge could someday help efforts to produce new and better medicines, said Stodieck.

Led by Timothy Hammond of the Veteran's Administration in Washington, D.C., the payload will be flown inside two types of BioServe flight hardware known as an opticell processing module and a plate habitat that rides inside a BioServe Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, or CGBA. The CGBA is an automated, suitcase-sized device developed by CU-Boulder that has been launched on more than 20 NASA space shuttle missions and which provides steady temperature control. There currently are two BioServe CGBA devices on the International Space Station, one of which will be used for processing the yeast experiment at an elevated temperature.

A fourth payload involving biofilms may help scientists understand how and why slimy and troublesome clumps of microorganisms flourish in the low-gravity conditions of space. The experiments on biofilms -- clusters of microorganisms that adhere to each other or to various surfaces -- are of high interest to space scientists because of their potential impacts on astronaut and spacecraft health, said Stodieck.

Led by Professor Cynthia Collins of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., the biofilm experiment riding inside a second BioServe CGBA will target the growth, physiology and cell-to-cell interactions in microbial biofilms. The team will examine how the formation of the three-dimensional structure of biofilms formed by microbes differs in spaceflight versus normal gravity.

A fifth payload will be used to assess the effects of microgravity on the formation, establishment and multiplication of cells in a tropical plant known as Jatropha that produces energy-rich nuts, a popular new renewable crop for biofuels. The team will be looking for genes that help or hinder Jatropha growth to see if new strains can be developed and commercially grown in "warm-temperate" areas like the southern United States. The lead scientist on the experiment is Associate Professor Wagner Vendrame of the University of Florida.

BioServe is a nonprofit, NASA-supported center founded in 1987 at CU-Boulder to develop new or improved products through space life science research in partnership with industry, academia and government. Since 1991 BioServe has flown payloads on 37 NASA space shuttle microgravity missions.

Although NASA's space shuttle program will be shuttered following the Atlantis mission, hardware and experiments developed by BioServe are manifested on various international resupply vehicles traveling to the International Space Station, as well as on U.S. spacecraft now under development, said Stodieck.

"We would be unable to carry out all of our research without the help of CU-Boulder students," he said. "Both undergraduate and graduate students play an important role in designing, building and testing spaceflight payloads, activities that can give them a significant advantage when they move on to careers in the aerospace industry."

BioServe also has flown several K-12 educational experiments on the space station, including seed-germination studies, spider web-weaving experiments, butterfly life cycle experiments and crystal garden growth experiments -- all of which have provided learning opportunities for thousands of middle school and high school students around the world. The K-12 efforts have been led by Stefanie Countryman, BioServe's business manager and coordinator of education outreach.

For more information on BioServe visit http://www.colorado.edu/engineering/BioServe/index.html.

Louis Stodieck | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

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

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

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>