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GeneLAB research platform to expand life sciences research on station

Posted August 29, 2013
GeneLAB research platform to expand life sciences research on station

GeneLAB research platform to expand life sciences research on station
Studying yeast grown in space could help us learn about the changes human cells may experience during long-duration spaceflight. Gaining better knowledge of genetic alterations by studying yeast also may help in understanding how these changes could manifest in human disease on Earth. Credit: University of Toronto

We have a lot to live for. Families. Hobbies. Careers. It’s no wonder that we are always on a quest to understand and improve our health. And this quest doesn’t stop on Earth—it’s one of the main focal points for International Space Station research.

NASA is expanding life science research on the space station with a new collection of investigations called geneLAB. This study represents NASA’s leading effort to develop next-generation life science research capabilities that not only will benefit humans traveling into space, but also will help scientists understand the role genes play in human health and disease on Earth.

Life science research in microgravity teaches us how space travel affects living organisms so that NASA can develop countermeasures to mitigate or cure the detrimental effects of space exposure on astronauts who embark on long-duration missions. For those of us on Earth, there are many questions about human diseases that may be answered through space research, leading to improved detection, treatment and prevention of disease. Through the development of the geneLAB model and platform, NASA is creating next-generation tools that will enable drug development and biomedical research, expanding the types of disease systems that will be impacted positively by NASA programs.

“Instead of representing a particular piece of space hardware or equipment, or a single mission or study, geneLAB is a new research model that enables a wide range of science experiments that will seek to understand how exposure to spaceflight affects living issues at the biomolecular and genetic level,” said D. Marshall Porterfield, Ph.D., director of Space Life and Physical Sciences in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “GeneLAB experiments will take advantage of new life science research technologies that enable the measurement of the biochemical and molecular networks that relate to the genome and gene expression in an integrated way to monitor how the biology is altered by exposure to space in low-Earth orbit at the complex systems level.”

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