A private US astronaut mission to test cancer drugs in space
NEW YORK, May 23 (IANS) The latest mission by US space habitat company Axiom Space to the International Space Station (ISS) has brought several experiments on human stem cell aging, inflammation and cancer to a low-Earth orbit laboratory.
Increasing evidence shows that microgravity conditions can accelerate aging, inflammation, and immune impairment in human stem cells.
Understanding this process not only helps keep astronauts healthy — it can also teach us how to better treat cancer on Earth.
The Axiom-2 (Ax-2) mission lifted off at 5:37 PM EST Sunday (3:07 AM Monday IST) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a multinational crew including the first woman from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia.
The Ax-2 mission will now determine whether two inhibitor drugs can reverse regeneration in an organoid model of breast cancer.
Another line of experiment will track the health of astronauts’ blood stem cells before, during and after spaceflight to assess the effects of the space environment on stem cell aging, immune function and the generation of CSCs.
These projects are part of the NASA-funded Integrated Space Orbital Stem Cell Research Center (ISSCOR), a collaboration between the University of California-San Diego Sanford Stem Cell Institute, the JM Foundation, and Axiom Space.
The experiments will take place over 10 days on orbit, with data collection and analysis later taking place at the University of California, San Diego.
“Space is a uniquely stressful environment,” said Catriona Jamieson, a professor at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
“By conducting these experiments in low Earth orbit, we are able to understand the mechanisms of cancer development in a compressed time frame and inform the development of new strategies to inhibit cancer stem cells,” Jamieson added.
The findings will inform the development of predictive models for diseases associated with cancer and immune impairment and could lead to the development of new drugs to prevent or treat these conditions during space exploration and here on Earth.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity with our own astronaut missions to advance this important work, in line with the White House’s cancer initiatives,” said Christian Mander, executive vice president of space solutions at Axiom Space.
“Our mission is to improve life on Earth and enhance the possibilities even further by building and operating the world’s first commercial space station,” she added.
Waiting for the weather, the Axiom Space astronauts are expected to leave the space station on May 30, to return to Earth and splash water at a landing site off the coast of Florida.