Immune cells to be tested on the International Space Station

Immune cells to be tested on the International Space Station

The human body is fine-tuned to Earth’s gravity. Scientists are now conducting an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) to study whether this also applies to human cells. We know the effect of gravity on muscles, bones and joints inside out; it has been studied extensively in medicine for centuries. For a long time, however, exactly how gravity affects the cells remained a mystery.

via Top Health News — ScienceDaily:

The human body is fine-tuned to Earth’s gravity. A team headed by Professor Oliver Ullrich from the University of Zurich’s Institute of Anatomy is now conducting an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) to study whether this also applies to human cells. On the evening of April 18, the transporter spaceship Dragon lifted off from the Cape Canaveral launch center in Florida with a cargo of UZH immune cells on board.We know the effect of gravity on muscles, bones and joints inside out; it has been studied extensively in medicine for centuries. For a long time, however, exactly how gravity affects the cells remained a mystery. Thanks to modern cell biology and space technology, we can now study precisely whether and how cells are also adapted to life on Earth. In zero gravity, for instance, various immune system functions are impaired: Phagocytes known as macrophages, which kill and destroy invading bacteria, are no longer capable of protecting the person optimally from infections, which is why astronauts often suffer them.Professor Oliver Ullrich from the University of Zurich’s Institute of Anatomy now wants to investigate how the structure and metabolism of these phagocytes change during a three-day stint in zero gravity. Samples with immune cells are currently on their way up to the International Space Station (ISS) on the so-called Cellbox Mission, where they will be studied in an experiment. The Dragon capsule carrying the fixed samples is due to splash down in the Pacific Ocean on May 18.Three days in zero gravityThe ISS experiment focuses on the long-term impact of zero gravity on human phagocytes — especially their cytoskeleton and molecules, which are important for cell communication. On parabolic flights with zero gravity for 22 seconds and in tests on research rockets with five minutes of zero gravity, Professor Ullrich’s team already discovered that cells from the human immune system already respond to the absence of gravity within seconds. Key molecular functions for cell-to-cell communication and cell migration are immediately impaired.Based on a three-day experiment, the researchers are now looking to investigate whether the vast number of changes that take place in seconds or minutes of zero gravity are actually processes of adaptation to a new environment or far-reaching, permanent problems. …

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Top Health News — ScienceDaily

Immune cells to be tested on the International Space Station

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