ISS - Expedition 52 Mission patch.
July 31, 2017
(Highlights: Week of July 24, 2017) - An investigation conducted on the International Space Station showed the value as a commercial platform for scientific study, looking into a new drug to fight cancer.
Image above: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson begins a study on the Efficacy and Metabolism of Azonafide Antibody-Drug Conjugates in Microgravity (ADCs) on the International Space Station. The results of this investigation could help fight cancer in humans. Image Credit: NASA.
Crew members worked on microscope observations for the Efficacy and Metabolism of Azonafide Antibody-Drug Conjugates in Microgravity (ADCs in Microgravity) investigation. The study evaluates new antibody-drug conjugates from Oncolinx Pharmaceuticals in Buffalo, New York. These conjugates are a combination of immune-activating drugs and human antibodies targeting cancer cells, which increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduces its side effects.
In microgravity, cancer cells grow as three-dimensional spheroid structures, much like they do in the human body. The absence of gravity also provides a more controlled environment for testing the conjugates. The drug binds with natural antibodies, which in turn bind to the surface of tumors. The conjugate is internalized by that tumor cell, where the drug is released and can kill the cancer cell. This research identifies the changes caused by a microgravity environment and how those changes influence drug performance. Understanding these changes informs future research and can accelerate development of new drugs targeting cancer.
Image above: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson changes out the Imaging Unit on the Bone Desitometer located in Node 2 on the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson conducted her final round of the study of Fluid Shifts Before, During, and After Prolonged Space Flight and Their Association with Intracranial Pressure and Visual Impairment (Fluid Shifts) ahead of her return to Earth, scheduled for September. One of the main risks for humans during long-duration space missions is change in vision. More than half of American astronauts experience vision changes and other physical alterations to parts of their eyes during and after long-duration spaceflight. It is hypothesized that the fluid shift toward the head that occurs during spaceflight leads to increased pressure in the brain, which may push on the back of the eye, causing it to change shape. Fluid Shifts measures how much fluid moves from the lower body to the upper body, in or out of cells and blood vessels, and determines the impact these shifts have on fluid pressure in the head, changes in vision and eye structures.
One of the methods used to better examine the phenomenon is for a crew member to wear a Lower Body Negative Pressure device – also known as Chibis pants. This device uses negative pressure to draw fluid toward the feet while fellow crew members take measurements of cerebral, optical and cochlear fluid pressures.
Image above: The International Space Station orbits toward the sun to experience one of the 16 sunrises the crew has every day as it travels around Earth. One of the solar panels that provides power to the station is seen in the upper left of the photo. Image Credit: NASA.
Scientists want to develop preventive measures against these and other physiological changes during spaceflight. Results from the Fluid Shifts investigation may also improve understanding of how blood pressure in the brain specifically affects eye shape and vision, which could benefit people confined to long-term bed rest, or suffering from disease states that increase swelling and pressure in the brain.
Crew members also completed calibration of the Bone Densitometer, an X-ray device the size of a standard microwave oven that can measure bone density, muscle and fat of mice while they are in orbit. The technology is being tested for possible use on human space travelers.
Space to Ground: A New Method: 07/27/2017
Video above: NASA's Space to Ground is a weekly update on what is happening on the International Space Station. Social media users can post with #spacetoground to ask questions or make a comment. Video Credit: NASA.
Crew members on long-duration space missions suffer bone density loss, which they counteract by exercising daily and eating healthy meals. Future missions lasting a year or more may require additional countermeasures to keep crew members healthy. Researchers are studying the effects of microgravity by evaluating mice flown in space and are using the results to develop treatments for bone density loss in space and on Earth. The Bone Densitometer will be used as a model for studying bone density loss in humans while in space, but verifying its capabilities will help researchers and biotech companies test new therapies, potentially benefiting millions of people who suffer from osteoporosis and other bone density-related ailments.
Other investigations showing progress this week included Meteor, Capillary Structures for Exploration Life Support (Capillary Structures), Habitability, Sprint, and Dose Tracker.
ADCs in Microgravity: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/investigation-tests-drug-to-activate-immune-system-help-fight-cancer
Fluid Shifts: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1257.html
Chibis pants: https://blogs.nasa.gov/ISS_Science_Blog/2015/06/02/rubber-vacuum-pants-that-suck/
Bone Densitometer: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1148.html
Capillary Structures: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2364.html
Dose Tracker: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1933.html
Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html
International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Kristine Rainey/Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 51 & 52.
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