NASA preps for space-based stem cell research

Dec 09, 2013

NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) are enabling research aboard the International Space Station that could lead to new stem cell-based therapies for medical conditions faced on Earth and in space.

Scientists will take advantage of the space station's to study the properties of non-embryonic stem cells.

NASA is interested in space-based cell research because it is seeking ways to combat the astronauts face in microgravity, including bone loss and . Mitigation techniques are necessary to allow humans to push the boundaries of far into the solar system. This knowledge could help people on Earth, particularly the elderly, who are afflicted with similar conditions.

Two stem cell investigations scheduled to fly to the next year were highlighted Friday, Dec. 6, at the World Stem Cell Summit in San Diego. Lee Hood, a member of the CASIS Board of Directors, moderated a panel session in which scientists Mary Kearns-Jonker of Loma Linda University in California and Roland Kaunas of Texas A&M University discussed their planned research, which will gauge the impact of microgravity on fundamental stem cell properties.

Kearns-Jonker's research will study the aging of neonatal and adult cardiac stem cells in microgravity with the ultimate goal of improving cardiac cell therapy. Kaunas is a part of a team of researchers developing a system for co-culturing and analyzing stem cells mixed with bone tumor cells in microgravity. This system will allow researchers to identify potential molecular targets for drugs specific to certain types of cancer.

Stem cells are cells that have not yet become specialized in their functions. They display a remarkable ability to give rise to a spectrum of cell types and ensure life-long tissue rejuvenation and regeneration. Experiments on Earth and in space have shown that microgravity induces changes in the way stem cells grow, divide and specialize. Stem cell biology in microgravity could inform fields ranging from discovery science to tissue engineering to regenerative medicine.

NASA selected CASIS to maximize use of the International Space Station's U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet.

Explore further: How prostate cancer cells evolve

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How prostate cancer cells evolve

Dec 04, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—UCLA researchers have discovered how prostate cancer stem cells evolve as the disease progresses, a finding that could help point the way to more highly targeted therapies. 

Student experiments take flight on Cygnus cargo craft

Sep 30, 2013

Dreaming big may not literally make the world go round, but it can power student curiosities to circle the globe as orbiting science investigations aboard the International Space Station. On Wednesday, Sept. ...

Tracking nanodiamond-tagged stem cells

Aug 05, 2013

A method that is used to track the fate of a single stem cell within mouse lung tissue is reported in a study published online this week in Nature Nanotechnology. The method may offer insights into the factors that determ ...

Why stem cells need to stick with their friends

Nov 07, 2013

Scientists at University of Copenhagen and University of Edinburgh have identified a core set of functionally relevant factors which regulates embryonic stem cells' ability for self-renewal. A key aspect is the protein Oct4 ...

Recommended for you

Researchers film protein quake for the first time

8 hours ago

One of nature's mysteries is how plants survive impact by the huge amounts of energy contained in the sun's rays, while using this energy for photosynthesis. The hypothesis is that the light-absorbing proteins ...

Deploying exosomes to win a battle of the sexes

Aug 25, 2014

There are many biological tools that help animals ensure reproductive success. A new study in The Journal of Cell Biology provides further detail into how one such mechanism enables male fruit flies to imp ...

User comments : 0