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Rodent Research Mission on ISS National Lab Enables Investigators to Leverage Space-Flown Specimens

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
July 19, 2019
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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), July 18, 2019 (ISS National Lab PR) – Onboard SpaceX’s 18th commercial resupply services mission contracted by NASA, the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory will send 40 female mice to the microgravity environment of the orbiting platform to evaluate their adaptation off Earth. Rodent spaceflight experiments provide a broad range of translational data pertinent to biomedical advancements in neurology, muscle and bone physiology, immunology, and cardiovascular and developmental biology.

Due to the tremendous demand from the research community for leveraging model organisms, the ISS National Lab announced its second Rodent Research Reference Mission earlier this year—allowing researchers the ability to analyze rodents post-spaceflight in an effort to accelerate medical breakthroughs that can pave the way toward advancements in industrial biomedicine, improving patient care on Earth.

With this launch, 30 mice will be returned alive to Earth at the completion of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft’s stay on station (approximately 30 days), while the remaining 10 will remain on the orbiting laboratory for additional exposure to microgravity.

This Rodent Research Reference Mission will allow selected researchers to further analyze biological specimens toward better disease modeling or potentially accelerated development of therapeutics for terrestrial use. Below highlights principal investigators (PIs) selected from the second Rodent Research Reference Mission who will analyze space-flown biospecimens:

Single-Cell Profiling of Immune Factors Related to Circulating microRNAs
NASA Ames Research Center
PI:  Afshin Beheshti

Gastrointestinal Alterations of Combined Aging and Spaceflight
Texas A&M University Health Science Center
PI:  Walter Cromer

Comprehensive Analysis of Musculoskeletal System Changes in Mice Exposed to Microgravity
University of Colorado, Boulder
PI:  Virginia Ferguson

Single-cell RNA sequencing to Reveal Changes to Bone and Immune Functions Resulting from Spaceflight
NASA Ames Research Center
PI:  Jonathan Galazka

Computational Microstructure-Inspired and Data-driven Model for Bone Degradation to Study the Progression of Osteoporosis
Iowa State
PI:  Azadeh Sheidaei

Effects Spaceflight and Aging on the Circulation and Musculoskeletal Systems of the Hindlimb
Florida State University
PI:  Anand Narayanan

Examination of the Combined Effects of Spaceflight and Aging on Specialized Circulations
Texas A&M University Health Science Center
PI:  Pooneh Bagher

Effects of Spaceflight and Aging on the Circulation of the Head and Neck: Implications for SANS
Florida State University
PI:  Michael Delp

Microgravity Unloading Influence on Age-Related Extracellular Matrix Remodeling and Fibrosis
University of Washington
PI:  Jennifer Davis

Aging and Microgravity Effects on Ovarian Estrogen Production
University of Kansas Medical Center
PI:  Lane Christenson

This RFP is in association with Taconic Biosciences (who will provide the rodents) and BioServe Space Technologies (who will administer the biospecimens). 

To learn more about ISS National Lab–sponsored payloads on SpaceX’s 18th commercial resupply services mission to the space station, visit our launch coverage page.

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