Experiments aboard the 24th SpaceX cargo mission to the space station study bioprinting, crystallization, lye

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Experiments aboard the 24th SpaceX cargo mission to the space station study bioprinting, crystallization, lye

Status report of: NASA HQ
Posted: Monday December 20 2021

Upstream image of the device for the University of Idaho’s Vandal Voyagers SPOCS experiment on microgravity bacteria resistant materials. CREDIT University of Idaho SPOCS Team

The 24e EspaceX freight replenishment services mission, aimed at launch at the end of December at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, conducts scientific research and technological demonstrations at the International space station. Experiments on board include studies of bioprinting, crystallization of monoclonal antibodies, changes in immune function, changes in plant gene expression, laundering of clothes in space, treatment of alloys and citizen science projects for students.

Download in high resolution photos and videos from the research mentioned in this article.

Learn more about these science experiments aboard the Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory:

Bio-printed dressings

Bioprinting, a subcategory of 3D printing, uses viable cells and biological molecules to imprint tissue structures. A study by the German Space Agency, Bioprint First Aid, shows a portable bioprinter that uses a patient’s own skin cells to create a tissue-forming patch to cover a wound and speed up the healing process.

On future missions to the Moon and Mars, bioprinting such personalized patches could help cope with changes in wound healing that can occur in space and could complicate treatment. Extracting an individual’s cells prior to a mission would allow for a more immediate response to injury.

“In manned space exploration missions, skin lesions must be treated quickly and efficiently,†explains project manager Michael Becker of the German Space Agency at DLR. “Mobile bioprinting could dramatically speed up the healing process. Personalized and individual wound treatment based on bioprinting could have a great benefit and is an important step for further personalized medicine in space and on Earth.

Personalized Healing Patches also have potential benefits on Earth, providing safer and more flexible treatment wherever needed. The researchers plan to study the patches printed in space and the samples printed on the ground at the Technical University of Dresden.

Improve the administration of cancer drugs

Monoclonal antibodies, used to treat a wide range of human diseases, do not dissolve easily in fluid and therefore generally must be administered intravenously in a clinical setting. Treatments given by injection into the skin or muscle may be more accessible and affordable for those who need them and use less expensive resources. CASIS PCG 20 continues its work on the crystallization of a monoclonal antibody developed by Merck Research Labs which is the active ingredient of a drug that targets several cancers. Scientists analyze these crystals to learn more about the structure and behavior of the ingredient, with the goal of creating drug formulations that can be given by injection at a doctor’s office or even at home. A previous survey, PCG-5, product High quality crystalline suspensions, contributing to ongoing efforts to formulate the drug for administration by injection.

Assess the risk of infection

Scientists have observed that space flights sometimes increase the virulence of potentially harmful microbes and can reduce human immune function, which could increase the risk of infectious disease. Host Pathogen assesses space-induced changes in immune state by culturing cells collected from crew members before, during and after space flight with both bacteria grown under simulated space flight conditions and non modified. The results could help assess the potential risk that infectious microbes may pose and may support the development of countermeasures. A better understanding of how stress can decrease immune function could also improve care for people with weakened immune systems on Earth.

Roots, shoots and leaves

MVP Factory-01 profiles and monitors the development of plant shoots and roots in microgravity to help scientists understand the mechanisms by which plants perceive and adapt to changes in their environment. Plants could play an important role in human life support systems for long duration spaceflight and the habitation of the Moon and Mars. However, plants grown in space experience stress from a variety of factors, and recent studies indicate that gene expression in plants changes in response to these stressors. A better understanding of these changes could allow the stressor response to be used to develop plants better suited to growth in space environments. For this investigation, plants are grown in Petri plates in Techshot’s newly designed Phytofuge modules.

To the lunar laundries

Space station astronauts wear clothing several times, then replace it with new clothing delivered during refueling missions. The limited cargo capacity makes this a challenge, and resupplying is not an option for longer missions such as the Moon and Mars. Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) developed Tide Infinity, a fully degradable detergent specifically for use in space, and PGTIDE studies the performance of its stain-removing ingredients and the stability of the formulation in microgravity.

“From a scientific standpoint, the main challenges for off-planet bleaching include the strict requirements for compatibility with air purification systems, the limited amount of water available for each wash treatment, and the requirement that the washing water for the laundry is purified to become drinkable again. water, â€says Mark Sivik, researcher at P&G.

Once the technology is proven in space, he adds, Tide will use these cleaning methods and detergents to advance sustainable, resource-efficient laundry solutions here on Earth.

the ISS National Laboratory sponsor the experience.

Parts made in space

Turbine SCM tests a commercially manufactured device that processes heat resistant alloy parts in microgravity. Alloys are materials made up of two or more different chemical elements, one of which is a metal. Researchers expect more uniform microstructures and improved mechanical properties in superalloy parts processed in microgravity compared to those processed on Earth. These premium materials could improve the performance of turbine engines in industries such as aerospace and power generation on Earth. Turbine SCM is operated remotely by Redwire Space.

“We continue to leverage the space station as a vital platform to foster scientific discovery, validate commercial low-earth orbit infrastructure capabilities, and prove deep space exploration technologies,” said Justin Kugler, Managing Director of Redwire Mission Solutions. “Our payloads on this mission represent the breadth and versatility of our manufacturing and R&D capabilities in orbit to deliver new industrial products to support long-duration human spaceflight and benefit people on Earth. “

Students and citizens as space scientists

Students enrolled in higher education institutions can design and build microgravity experiments as part of the NASA Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOC). As part of their experiment, the selected teams involve students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 as citizen scientists. Citizen science enables people who are not professional scientists to make meaningful contributions to real-world research. the NASA STEM on Station The project is funding flight experiments on this SpaceX resupply mission, including a study on antibiotic resistance in microgravity from Columbia University and one on how microgravity affects bacteria-resistant materials from the University of London. ‘Idaho.

Theo Nelson, head of outreach and protocol biologist at Columbia, points out that space radiation can lead to increased mutation rates in bacteria and that the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains poses a potential threat to future space missions to long term. “These bacteria are present in our body, so it is impossible to eliminate this threat with containment,†explains Nelson. “Our investigation, Characterization of Antibiotic Resistance in Microgravity Environments, or CARMEN, aims to characterize the basic biology of a particular combination of bacteria and to improve our understanding of the impact of microgravity on the ability of these bacteria. strains to cause disease individually and in combination. “

“The presence and growth of microbes poses a risk to both the health of the crew members and the physical integrity of the components,” said Niko Hansen, team member at the University of Idaho. He points out that the use of materials resistant to microbial growth for high contact surfaces in a spacecraft offers a potential cure. The team relied on citizen scientists to examine some well-known chemistries and identify which one to evaluate in microgravity.

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