NASA's space shuttle Discovery will make its swan song flight Nov. 1 carrying two University of Colorado at Boulder-built biomedical payload devices, including one to help scientists better understand changes in the virulence of nasty bacteria in the low gravity of space as a way to help researchers prevent or control infectious diseases.
The experiments will be carried aboard Discovery in sets of specially designed fluid-processing cylinders known as GAPs, said Louis Stodieck, director of BioServe Space Technologies in the aerospace engineering sciences department. The bacteria experiment will target how microgravity affects the growth of bacteria, in this case Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, also known as MRSA.
The GAPs will ride inside BioServe's Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, an automated, suitcase-sized device developed at CU-Boulder that has been launched on more than 20 NASA space shuttle missions, with two of the CGBA devices now on the International Space Station. BioServe is providing the hardware, integration and operations support for all Discovery GAP experiments.
Astronauts will control the individual GAP experiments using hand cranks to trigger and then later terminate cell growth via fluid mixing, said Stodieck. The samples will remain on the space station until the next shuttle mission slated to launch at the end of February, at which time they will be returned to Earth for further study.
The experiment is sponsored by Astrogenetix, Inc. headquartered in Austin, Tex., and designed by researchers at the Durham VA Medical Center in North Carolina. MRSA is a growing problem in hospitals and health clinics because of its ability to resist antibiotics in the penicillin class of drugs. "It can cause a variety of infections, some potentially fatal," said Stodieck.
"Because astronauts show decreases in their immune systems during spaceflight, we would like to know more about ho
|Contact: Louis Stodieck|
University of Colorado at Boulder