Why test anti-cancer drugs in space?


Scientists at the University of California (UC) San Diego will be the first to test two cancer treatments in space and will launch a new stem-cell experiment on the International Space Station. They will also investigate how space affects stem cell health in astronauts.

“Space is a uniquely stressful environment,” says Catriona Jamieson, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Sanford Stem Cell Research Institute. “Conducting these experiments in low-Earth orbit will help us understand the mechanisms of cancer evolution in a compressed time frame and help develop novel cancer stem cell inhibition strategies.”

Scientists at the Sanford Stem Cell Institute at the University of California, San Diego, are taking advantage of microgravity conditions that may promote aging, inflammation and immune dysfunction in human stem cells. This will not only expand our knowledge of how to keep astronauts healthy, but it may also provide useful information about cancer treatment on Earth.

This is the second mission to the International Space Station (ISS) by the Axiom Space Private Astronaut Mission. His first Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) focused on developing predictive models for immune dysfunction and precancerous stem cells. Researchers have found that cancer stem cells regenerate more readily in low-Earth orbit and become resistant to standard treatments.

In its second activity, Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), scientists will send organoid models of leukemia, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer into low-Earth orbit to see how cancers adapt to become standard treatments. I understand what it takes to be tolerant. They plan to test two ADAR1 inhibitors, fedratinib and levecinib, to see if they reverse cancer cell generation and affect cancer progression. Overexpression of ADAR1 allows cancer cells to evade the body’s natural immune response.

The scientists will also conduct long-term studies to monitor the health of ISS astronauts by tracking stem cells before, during, and after spaceflight. Blood samples are analyzed to assess the activity of DNA and RNA editing enzymes associated with immune dysfunction and precancerous changes. The information obtained will help researchers understand how these enzymes are related to these conditions and develop potential countermeasures.

The experiment, part of the NASA-funded Integrated Space Stem Cell Orbit Research (ISSCOR) Center, will run for 10 days, after which data will be collected and analyzed at the University of California, San Diego.

“With increasing support from NASA, philanthropic funders and partners in commercial spaceflight, this is just the beginning of the exciting and impactful health science advances enabled by space.” said Jamieson.

Source: University of California, San Diego





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