The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will launch the Space Shuttle Discovery into low earth orbit on April 5, carrying a payload containing Spectrum’s CellMax® bioreactors. Taking off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Flight STS-131, will be lead by Commander Alan Poindexter and Pilot James P. Dutton Jr.
The first experiment will evaluate embryonic stem cell differentiation in space, and will provide additional information about wound healing and tissue regeneration. Principal Investigator Dr. Eduardo Almeida of NASA will be using a specially designed polypropylene CellMax® bioreactor. Spectrum Laboratories worked closely with Dr. Almeida and Hawaii’s Tissue Genesis Inc. to create a custom housing for the bioreactor. Packaging the experiments is a critical issue on the Space Shuttle. The new housing needed to take up as little space as possible. Spectrum Labs’ engineers designed the specs and built the new housing in less than 10 days in order to meet the very tight experiment development schedule.
The second experiment, using a stock bioreactor, will investigate bacterial infection of mammalian epithelial cells in space. This experiment, developed by Principal Investigator Dr. Cheryl Nickerson of Arizona State University, will try to figure out how human cells respond to bacterial infections in space and if normal processes of infection seen on Earth occur in the space environment. This follows up and expands on work done in past flight experiments and in simulated microgravity conditions on Earth. The spaceflight microgravity environment is much better than ground-based simulations to determine the effects of spaceflight on living systems. The testing will use a polyethylene CellMax® bioreactor to cultivate the infections.
“We at Spectrum Labs are very proud to participate in these two experiments that promise to help us understand not only how cells function in microgravity, but how this information could be use for the discovery of novel therapeutics,” said Parag Patel, Product Manager for Spectrum’s CellMax® bioreactors.
Prep work for the experiments will be completed the day before the launch. The experiments will be then loaded on the Space Shuttle Discovery for its 13-day mission into space.