• Science Saturday: Mayo Clinic goes back to space

Lift off of SpaceX-16 resupply mission at Kennedy Space Center Space travel is known to cause wear and tear on astronauts’ bodies, but it’s still not clear how radiation exposure in space affects the function of cells. In particular, what happens to the body’s stem cells, responsible for rebuilding and regenerating normal tissue?

In the latest SpaceX-16 resupply mission, which took off December 5th from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida, Mayo Clinic researchers sent a large sample of stem cells to the International Space Station to investigate the effects of long-term cosmic radiation that astronauts encounter.

The project is being led by a collaborative team of researchers from Mayo Clinic and NASA, with expertise in stem cells and the health of astronauts on long flights.

“NASA reached out to us to help develop this study,” says one of the lead investigators, Abba Zubair, M.D., Ph.D., who specializes in transfusion medicine and regenerative medicine on Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida.

The experiment involves 300 million frozen stem cells, which will remain untouched in multiple vials at -130° Celsius aboard the International Space Station for an entire year. The cells will be sent back to Earth, still frozen, via a return capsule and then will be tested at Mayo Clinic.

The stem cells were generated from the bone marrow of two anonymous donors who provided samples to a commercial vendor for research. Read the rest of the article on Discovery's Edge.

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