sending stem cells in space to International Space Station to develop medicine of future
Sending stem cells in space, to ISS, to create medicine of tomorrow

Researchers from Cedars-Sinai are preparing to send stem cells in space to test if it is possible to produce large batches in zero gravity to treat diseases on Earth. They are working with a private firm, Space Tango, to send induced pluripotent stem cells to the International Space Station. These are send for almost a month as a part of an expected mission of NASA in spring. These specialized human stem cells are produce in labs. They are obtain from a person’s blood or skin cells and can make almost any cell in the body. Therefore, the cells carry individual’s own DNA, making them ideal for creating modified treatments for diseases.

Scientist at the Cedars-Sinai wants find out that how zero gravity effects the production of stem cells. A main issue while producing iPSCs on Earth is that it may involve gravity-induce tension. This makes it harder for the cells to expand and grow. As in zero gravity, this tension is no longer available, hence, making it easier for stem cells to multiply faster. “Understanding how iPSCs grow in space will help us understand some of the effects of space flight and space irradiation on human health. Perhaps lead to better ways to manufacture large numbers of cells in the absence of gravity,” said Clive Svendsen, PhD, professor of Biomedical Sciences and Medicine at Cedars-Sinai. Furthermore, Svendsen is using his own iPSCs for the mission to space. Before sending them to International Space Station (ISS), Svendsen and Sareen did a dry run of the experiment at Cedars-Sinai.

Research for send stem cells to space

At a conference in Las Vegas was arranged by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Svendsen discussed how growing stem cells in space may increase stem cell growth and decrease cell differentiation. These are the two major problems that occur under normal gravity conditions. Also, Arun Sharma, research scientist in the Regenerative Medicine Institute, explained biomanufacturing stem cells in space and his research on heart cells in space.

Sharma already sent stem cells obtain form heart cells to ISS, to study the effects of spaceflight. Also, to learn the affects of gravity on heart at cellular level. The results revealed that stem cell on space stations show different patterns of gene expression. The team also found that it caused variations in the way cells handle calcium, which has an important role in making of heart beat. So, his constant research not only helped the patients with cardiovascular issues on Earth. This can also help the astronauts on future long-duration spaceflight missions.

“Before this mission, little was known about role of microgravity in influencing human cardiac function at cellular level,” said Sharma. “We are just starting to understand how stem cell function, division, and survival could be raise by growing these stem cells in a low-gravity environment. If we can show that microgravity is beneficial to stem cell function, then perhaps we could leverage space for stem cell biomanufacturing.”

Future of therapies

Scientist at Cedars-Sinai hopes that scientific investigation may advance the limit of clinical treatment. “Going to space to improve stem cell production is consistent with the innovative discovery programs at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute,” said Shlomo Melmed, MB, the dean of the Medical Faculty at Cedars-Sinai. “This bold next step in the evolution of this forward-looking science will advance our progress toward future cell therapies. The potential of regenerative medicine is truly out of this world.”