Have you considered conducting experiments away from a lab? What if the lab is located in the infinite universe of space?
A project funded by the International Space Station (ISS) has been initiated by researchers at the University of California, San Diego. Its goal is to expedite the treatment of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's for which there is no effective cure at this moment. The primary goal of the research is to use brain organoids made from human stem cells in space to investigate how radiation and microgravity affect the aging process of the brain at the molecular level.
It was discovered in a prior study that the brain organoids age more quickly in space, particularly due to microgravity. Long-term replication of the space environment is challenging, particularly given the microgravity conditions. The results of the most recent study have demonstrated that brain molecules age more quickly, however the exact mechanism is yet unknown. Therefore, the goal of this research is to identify the missing mechanisms and devise strategies to prevent human brain cognitive decline.
The 30- to 40-day experiment will be conducted in an automated microfluidic platform and will take place on station, where researchers will record changes the brain models undergo in response to the environment and gather data on organoid growth and cell death. Following their return to Earth, more research will be done on the cellular activities of the brain models, along with data collection on gene expression.
The initiative may contribute to the development of novel, ground-breaking treatments for brain disorders since it represents a significant attempt to get closer to the prevention and treatment of late-onset diseases with unknown mechanisms.
“Investigation to Explore Brain Aging in Space to Fly on Spacex CRS-29.” ISS National Laboratory, 30 Oct. 2023, www.issnationallab.org/release-spxcrs29-brain-organoids-ucsd/.