Stem Cells in Space, Part Two: Aging and Heart Research on the ISS

Aging and Heart Research on the ISS

Aging and Heart Research on the ISS: Expedition 52 Official Patch

Expedition 52 Official Patch

We’re clearly big fans of stem cell research news. When it’s stem cell research done on the International Space Station, it’s tough not to share! Among other research, the Expedition 52 astronauts are performing aging and heart research on the ISS, specifically researching the effects of space flight on cardiovascular stem cells, and how that environment affects stem cells. From the NASA Cardiac Stem Cells Study page:

The International Space Station (ISS) is utilized to address the impact of the spaceflight environment on early cardiovascular stem cell signaling, migration, proliferation, differentiation, and senescence in human neonatal and adult cardiovascular stem cells isolated from the heart. The study determines whether microgravity in the spaceflight environment has an age-dependent effect on these parameters. The Functional Effects of Spaceflight on Cardiovascular Stem Cells (Cardiac Stem Cells) investigation addresses the hypothesis that the spaceflight environment accelerates the aging process, rendering the cardiovascular stem cells from neonates more similar to those from older adults. Understanding the role of environmental conditions on stem cells that reside within the heart is relevant for patients on Earth who are candidates for treatment with cardiac stem cells, as well as crew members returning to Earth who may require cell-based treatment to repair lost heart muscle incurred during flight.

Here’s a video of NASA biologist and astronaut Peggy Whitson, performing a zero gravity stem cell media exchange. From Dr. Whitson’s Twitter account:

The pink fluid is media–I’m removing a bit of old media and replacing it with new, little by little.

Stem cell research continues at a fever pitch. With our ability to research how a microgravity environment affects cells, we’re positioned to learn even more about how that environment affects cardiac stem cells, which will serve to benefit people both on the ground, and in space.