For the fourth time this year, NASAâ€™s Shuttle fleet is carrying a series of experiments being conducted by Austin-based Astrogenetix, a commercial biotech company created to use microgravity to develop the foundation of new medicines.
Payload on Space Shuttle Atlantis Flight STS-129 will consist of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) microbes in search of a target for a therapeutic or vaccine. Research will build on information gained during experiments conducted on board STS-128, which launched in August of this year. Those experiments have allowed Astrogenetix to hone in on a specific group of genes that show promise for identifying a vaccine candidate. On STS-129, Astrogenetix will interrogate specific genes within this group to further narrow the scope of virulence determinants.
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A vaccine to protect people against Salmonella, a deadly bacteria that often contaminates food processing operations, is headed for human testing following commercial development in zero gravity on the space shuttle and International Space Station.
Along with supply and equipment cargo bound for the International Space Station, Space Shuttle Discovery STS-128 will carry an additional scientific payload being conducted by Austin-based Astrogenetix, the first commercial space company to use microgravity to discover the foundation of new medicines.
Specifically, research will be conducted on Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella microbes in search of a potential target for a therapeutic agent or vaccine candidate. These bacterial microbes are known to cause hundreds of thousands of medically diagnosed infections every year around the world.