Colorado U. to fly hardware, experiments on space shuttle, space station

Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder will be flying several biomedical and agricultural experiments on NASA's space shuttle Atlantis slated for launch Oct. 2, some of which will be transferred to the International Space Station.

The CU-Boulder faculty and students involved are affiliated with BioServe Space Technologies, headquartered in the College of Engineering and Applied Science and one of several NASA centers for Space Commercialization with active space flight programs. The experiments, which will take place in sophisticated hardware and devices designed and built by BioServe engineers and students, are being undertaken in cooperation with research groups in both the public and private sectors.

Three cell biology experiments involve culturing human kidney cells, an infectious agent (salmonella), and yeast, said BioServe Director Louis Stodieck of the aerospace engineering sciences department. While culturing such cells on Earth results in the normally heavier kidney cells settling to the bottom of the medium and growing in two-dimensional sheets, culturing them in the suspended state of microgravity causes their behavior to mimic normal, functioning kidney cells.

Previous BioServe flights have documented changes in kidney cells and how the genes are expressed to produce particular proteins, said Stodieck. "Now we want to learn more about what is happening at the molecular level to control the behavior of the cells in space and on the ground.

"Ultimately we want to create 3-D models of tissues for testing new drugs that may be able to block infections," he said. "Studying how salmonella and yeast respond to microgravity will further our knowledge of molecular responses in space."

Stodieck, chief scientist on the project for BioServe, is working with three investigators from Tulane Medical University and the Louisiana Veterans Research and Education Corp. A third partne

Contact: Stefanie Countryman
University of Colorado at Boulder

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