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Students from UAB and UPC will experiment under microgravity conditions at the ESA
Date:1/21/2009

A group of postgraduate students belonging to the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) and Universitat Autnoma de Barcelona (UAB) were chosen by the European Space Agency (ESA) to design and carry out a scientific experiment under microgravity conditions. They will be monitoring how interactions between drugs and cells differ under these conditions. The flights will take place this coming fall.

Sergi Vaquer, with a doctorate in Medicine from UAB, and Arnau Rabadn, a postgraduate in Industrial Engineering at UPC, together with three more teams from Norway, Germany and England, will be participating in the ESA programme "Fly your Thesis!". The programme is an opportunity for doctoral and master's degree students from around Europe to design, build and perform a scientific experiment in microgravity conditions. Sixteen research groups from different European universities participated in the final phase of selection where they presented their projects at the ESA European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany this past December.

The UAB and UPC researchers will take part this fall in a series of parabolic flights on board an Airbus A300 ZERO-G aircraft, which is used by many astronauts as part of their training. The flights will consist in accelerating the aircraft to climb with a high angle and reducing its thrust to a minimum during 20 seconds while the plane falls freely along a parabolic trajectory. During these 20 seconds the aircraft's cabin pressure is similar to those found in near zero gravity conditions. Each flight will repeat this trajectory up to 30 times to give researchers - in the three flights they will be taking - an opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time experimenting in microgravity.

The experiment, entitled ABCtr MicroG and coordinated by Sergi Vaquer, will investigate the behaviour of particular biological agents - ABC transporters - involved in the assimilation of drugs by the human body. To do this,
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Contact: Sergi Vaquer
34-620-797-877
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Source:Eurekalert

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