Call for papers - Reproduction, Technology and Society, a new section in Reproductive BioMedicine Online
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_94021

Stem cells in space

4 March 2013
Appeared in BioNews 695

Mouse embryonic stem cells are being transported to the International Space Station (ISS) to investigate the impact of long-term space flight on human health.

The cryopreserved cells will stay on board the ISS for three years. The intention is then to return the cells to earth and see if the stay on the ISS has affected their DNA. Scientists hope to produce live mice by injecting the stem cells into embryos which will be then implanted into female mice. The affects of time in space can then be studied down through several generations and may also provide insight into what might happen in humans.

The project is led by Professor Takashi Morita of Osaka City University in Japan who plans to build on previous studies which have found astronauts and animals returning from space have damage to their immune or reproductive systems. It is thought this is caused by exposure to low gravity and space radiation. Understanding what is happening at the cellular level may aid development of new drugs to combat this.

The recent announcement of a planned mission to Mars in 2018 has given the project greater impetus. The journey to and from Mars would take 501 days and there is concern that prolonged exposure to space radiation may cause infertility or an increased susceptibility to cancer.

Dr Julie Robinson, chief scientist for NASA's ISS program, suggests that studies of cells in space may also lead to better therapies on earth. She said previous studies have shown that low gravity can prevent stem cells maturing into different cell types.

Professor Louis Yuge of Hiroshima University, Japan is about to start a clinical trial to see whether bone and muscle stem cells grown in low gravity environments are able to treat osteoarthritis, reports the New Scientist. Slowing down the time it takes for stem cells to mature could give them more time to move to the wounded area and turn into the required tissue.

Since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, the commercial firm SpaceX has been responsible for transporting supplies to and from the ISS. NASA has previously sent embryonic stem cells into space in 2010 to study the effects of space travel on muscle and bone.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Here's What Tomorrow's SpaceX Capsule Will Bring To The Space Station
Business Insider |  28 February 2013
Research Rides Dragon to the International Space Station
NASA (press release) |  28 February 2013
Stem cells aboard SpaceX will seed mice back on Earth
New Scientist |  28 February 2013
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
19 March 2018 - by Kathryn Ashe 
Preliminary results from a NASA study on a pair of identical twins suggests that space travel could have long-lasting effects on the human body...
30 May 2017 - by Dr Ashley Cartwright 
Mouse sperm stored aboard the International Space Station for nine months has been used to produce healthy pups back on Earth...
25 April 2016 - by Dr Ashley Cartwright 
Chinese scientists have successfully grown mouse embryos in space, the first reported development of mammalian embryos in space history...
18 February 2013 - by Reuben Harwood 
What would be the first clinical trial to use induced pluripotent stem cells has been granted ethical approval in Japan...
4 February 2013 - by Reuben Harwood 
Aged stem cells can be returned to a younger, more active state by increasing the activity of a single gene...
14 January 2013 - by Dr Anna Cauldwell 
Tissue derived from induced pluripotent stem cells causes 'limited or no immune response' in mice, a study published in Nature has found...
7 January 2013 - by Dr Tamara Hirsch 
Neural stem cells were shown to be effective against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or motor neurone disease, in 11 independent studies on mice with the disease...
3 December 2012 - by Dr Greg Ball 
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have been created from a routine blood sample by researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK, marking an improvement over existing experimental methods that require more invasive tissue biopsies....
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.