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NASA biotechnology activities enhancing quality of life

What do an anthrax-killing device, soybeans in space, artificial bone replacement materials, light-emitting diodes for wound healing, a new medicine to treat bone loss, a water bottle that filters out bacteria, a perfume, and advanced techniques for pharmaceutical drug design have in common?

These technologies and others have or are being developed by more than 150 companies that are partners with NASA's Space Product Development Program (SPDP) and its 15 Research Partnership Centers (RPC's) across America.

"Industry is interested in many of the same revolutionary products and technologies that NASA needs to explore the universe," said Mark Nall, director of the Space Commerce Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Huntsville, Ala. "When industry, academia and NASA come together, industry positions itself for growth in new commercial markets, while academia and NASA benefit from innovative research and technological tools for exploration," he said.

Space and Osteoporosis Research and Treatment

Muscle and bone loss is one health-related problem that both NASA and industry are tackling. Since bone loss occurs more rapidly in space, Amgen, a biotechnology company with headquarters in Thousand Oaks, Calif., used NASA's Space Shuttle as a test bed for a new medication to treat bone loss or osteoporosis. Amgen discovered osteoprotegerin (OPG) in the mid 1990s, and is conducting human clinical trials to evaluate its safety and effectiveness in treating osteoporosis and its ability to maintain bone density in cancer that has metastasized to bone.

"OPG appears to prevent bone loss in a variety of diseases, including cancer, and we anticipate that a drug based on this molecule will be effective in preserving bone mass, whether in astronauts or the millions of Americans suffering from osteoporosis," said Dr. Paul Kostenuik, a research scientist in Amgen's Metabolic Disorders group.

Amgen works with BioServe
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Contact: Steve Roy
steve.roy@nasa.gov
256-544-0034
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center News Center
24-Jun-2003


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