A group of scientists is growing stem cells in space in an attempt to find brand new ways to create large batches of specific stem cells in order to treat various diseases.
the researchers from the Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Medical Center are responsible for running the program that sent the stem cells up to the International Space Station (ISS) this past weekend by making use of a supply trip delivery.
“By pushing the boundaries like this, it’s knowledge and it’s science and it’s learning,” stated the executive director of Cedars-Sinai’s Regenerative Medicine Institute, Clive Svendsen.
This new project marks the seventh of its type that has made use of stem cells that were sent into space from experiments by Italy, China, and the U.S. These efforts are attempting to find a solution to creating large quantities of stem cells under Earth’s gravity by conducting various efforts outside of the atmosphere of the planet.
“In zero G, there’s no force on the cells, so they can just grow in a different way,” explained Svendsen.
The specific cells used for the Cedars-Sinai experiment are called pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These materials are used by scientists for a large selection of treatments, ranging from blood cells to skin.
“Human iPSCs are ideal for creating and testing potential treatments that can be tailored to an individual,” explained the ISS National Laboratory about the mission. “Microgravity may overcome some of the problems involved in the processes by which stem cells divide and become different types of cells, which could advance the manufacturing of iPSCs for the treatment of various diseases on Earth.”
The Cedars-Sinai leaders stated via an announcement of the project last year that they are trying to pursue the research with the overall goal of furthering clinical treatments.
“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,” explained Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, executive vice president of Academic Affairs and 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.”
This particular experiment also deals with the growing of a similar set of stem cells on Earth in order to compare the results. The Stem cells being made on the ISS will be sent back ground side in just a few weeks via a SpaceX capsule for further analysis.