KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (November 17, 2016) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced it has awarded five research agreements within the fields of life sciences/genetics, materials sciences, Earth observation, and student inquiry that will provide investigators access to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory and its microgravity environment.
As the manager of the ISS National Laboratory, CASIS collaborates with NASA to make the orbiting facility available to researchers whose work would benefit from a microgravity setting and contribute to the improvement of life on Earth.
Below is a list of the research projects that have received awards from CASIS:
This project aims to study genetic processes (specifically, telomere shortening) that may lead to accelerated aging in space. This is a winning student experiment from the Genes in Space innovation challenge, which invites students to propose pioneering DNA amplification experiments using the unique environment of the ISS. Telomeres, the end caps on each of our chromosomes, typically shorten as we age and have been implicated in some human diseases. Studying telomeres in microgravity may reveal new mechanisms underlying the shortening process, potentially revealing new therapeutic approaches to improve the aging process for humans on Earth.
Principal Investigator: Rob Carlson, JAMSS America, Inc.
Global Receive Antenna and Signal Processor (GRASP) is an Earth observation facility that will provide affordable recovery of terrestrial radio frequency (RF) data using the ISS. RF data is used for a variety of applications, including monitoring assets, tracking ships, studying animal migrations, improving agricultural yields, monitoring the health of the environment and studying the radio spectrum. The GRASP facility is proposed for placement on the ISS to increase access for government, commercial, and academic monitoring of terrestrial RF signal data.
Intraterrestrial Fungus Grown in Space (iFunGIS)
Principal Investigator: Dr. Heath Mills, Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems, Inc.
This project seeks to validate a new hardware capability for molecular biology projects that will help to determine the response of a specific fungus, Penicillium chrysogenum, to microgravity. This fungal species produces a novel penicillin-like antibiotic natural product, giving the fungus high commercial value. Previous results have shown that organisms have different metabolic responses to microgravity, including alterations in growth rate and virulence, so this project may yield new metabolic information about this novel fungal species. There is a pressing need for new antimicrobial therapeutics, as antibiotic resistance and infection from community-acquired pathogens continue to rise worldwide.
Tympanogen, Inc. – Wound Healing
Principal Investigator: Dr. Elaine Horn-Ranney, Tympanogen, Inc.
This project seeks to improve the process of antibiotic release from a novel patch that can treat military combat wounds and reduce the occurrence and severity of sepsis, or systemic inflammation. This novel patch contains a hydrogel with inherent antimicrobial properties that can promote healing of a wound while acting as a scaffold for regenerating tissue. Reduced fluid motion in microgravity will allow for more precise studies of this hydrogel behavior and its controlled release from the patch. Sepsis is a major economic and healthcare burden and is usually caused by exposure of an open wound to contaminated surfaces. Moreover, infectious complications from combat-related injuries remain a critical issue in modern medicine, and novel therapeutics are necessary to improve outcomes for soldiers injured on the battlefield.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Rasha Hammamieh, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command
This project is part of a broader effort to understand the effects of spaceflight on tissue healing. Studies suggest that microgravity likely impairs the wound healing process, and microgravity has been shown to have negative effects on skin quality in astronauts. This project seeks to identify the molecular foundations of cutaneous (skin) wound healing that are vulnerable to spaceflight-induced stress, potentially revealing biologically relevant pathways for the next generation of wound healing therapies. Ultimately, this could provide a new treatment approach for the more than 30% of the patient population that do not respond to current therapeutic options for chronic non-healing wounds. This project will also mark the first time a comprehensive systems biology approach has been used to understand the impact of spaceflight on wound healing.
Each award is contingent upon the completion of an agreement between the recipient and CASIS on mutually acceptable terms and conditions.
For additional information about CASIS opportunities, including instructions on submitting a proposal, please visit: www.iss-casis.org/solicitations. To learn more about the ISS, including past research and available hardware and facilities, please visit: www.spacestationresearch.com.