The new experiment showed that living heart cells develop better under microgravity conditions. They can be used to treat injuries after illness.
In preparation for the experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the researchers explored new ways to cultivate living heart cells for microgravity research. They found that cryopreservation, the process of storing cells at -80 ° C, facilitates transport of cells to the orbital laboratory, providing greater flexibility in launch and operation schedules. This process could benefit other biological research in space and on Earth.
As part of the MVP Cell-03 study, heart progenitor cells were grown on the space station to study how microgravity affects the number of cells produced and how many of them survive. These progenitor cells have the potential to be used for disease modeling, drug development, and regenerative medicine, such as using cultured heart cells to replace damaged or lost heart disease.
Previous research shows that culturing such cells under conditions of simulated microgravity increases the efficiency of their production. However, the use of living cell cultures in space presents some unique challenges. Experiment MVP Cell-03, for example, must be performed at specific times when the cells are at the desired stage. Flight changes and crew availability may result in delays that will affect the survey.
Therefore, the laboratory conducted experiments to study new methods of transporting and cultivating heart cells. Their results, recently published in the journal Biomaterials, show that cryopreservation does not affect cells and even offers the added benefit of protecting cells from excess gravity during launch.
“Cryopreservation can significantly reduce the launch effect so that only the low Earth orbit environment can be considered in research,” said Mark Giulianotti, director of the ISS program at the US National Laboratory, which sponsored the study. “This technique also opens up possibilities for experiments in the lunar or deep space environment. It may even provide significant benefits for ground-based research in terms of delivering cells and tissues across a country or planet. ”
The team also compared the new cell culture medium, which does not require carbon dioxide, with the current standard medium, which does, and found no difference between the two. Carbon dioxide increases the weight, mass and cost of a space launch. The research team tested several modifications of the culture medium to improve the cryopreservation procedure.