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Final countdown: Atlantis to carry next-generation vaccine candidate on last space voyage
Date:7/6/2011

s shown promise in phase 1 human clinical trials. The ability of spaceflight to enhance the efficacy of this recombinant attenuated Salmonella vaccine, or RASV, will be the focus of the Atlantis mission.

Current experiments aboard STS-135 will build on decades of earlier research by Nickerson and Curtiss, in attempts to improve the effectiveness of RASVs. These vaccines exploit Salmonella's renowned infectious capacity in order to produce a strong, system-wide immune response. In addition to the defensive response to Salmonella, the vaccine recipient also marshals an immune response to secondary disease antigens studded on the pathogen's surface membranein this case, antigens to pneumococcus, the causative agent of pneumonia.

"Many breakthroughs in life sciences research and translational advancements to the healthcare setting, have been achieved through studying the response of biological systems to extreme environments," Nickerson says. The extreme environment in the present study is the reduced gravity present during spaceflight, which alters a fundamental physical property encountered by living cells, known as fluid shear.

Fluid shear refers to the physical forces exerted on cells by the extracellular liquids surrounding them. Previous experiments by Nickerson aboard the space shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis showed that changes in fluid shear due to microgravity induced important cellular responses in pathogens, including unique alterations in gene expression and virulence.

Nickerson notes that the responses of pathogenic cells to microgravity may be closely correlated with their behavior during infection here on earth, where the effects of low fluid shear environments present in the body are believed to contribute to virulence. Such pathogen responses, however, may often evade detection in conventional in vitro experiments on earth, where gravity may be masking this effect. In the current study, th
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Contact: Joseph Caspermeyer
Joseph.Caspermeyer@asu.edu
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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Final countdown: Atlantis to carry next-generation vaccine candidate on last space voyage
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