The University of Colorado Boulder is involved with five different space science payloads ranging from antibody tests that may lead to new bone-loss treatments to an experiment to improve vaccine effectiveness for combating salmonella when Atlantis thunders skyward July 8 on the last of NASA's 135 space shuttle missions.
One experiment, sponsored by the global pharmaceutical companies Amgen and UCB, will test an antibody to sclerostin -- a protein that has a negative effect on bone formation, mass and strength -- on lab mice flying on the shuttle. Researchers on the project hope the sclerostin antibody treatment will inhibit the action of sclerostin.
The research team hopes the findings may lead to potential therapeutic treatments for astronauts, who suffer significant bone loss during spaceflight, especially on long-term missions. They also might provide insight for future research in the prevention and treatment of skeletal fragility that may be caused by stroke, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury and reduced physical activity. Amgen is headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Calif., while UCB is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
There are seven co-principal investigators on the sclerostin antibody experiment, including Louis Stodieck, director of CU-Boulder's BioServe Space Technologies and a faculty member in the aerospace engineering sciences department. The research team includes a second CU-Boulder co-principal investigator, Assistant Professor Virginia Ferguson of mechanical engineering, an expert in biomaterials, including bone.
A second payload, called the Recombinant Attenuated Salmonella Vaccine, or RASV, will allow scientists to search for novel gene targets for vaccine development and improvement using the low gravity of space. The principal investigator on the experiment is Associate Professor Cheryl Nickerson of Arizona State University.
The RASV experiment will be carried aboard
|Contact: Louis Stodieck|
University of Colorado at Boulder