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Experiments In Outer Space To Determine single Cell Survival

Far above the heads of Earthlings, nanostructures of single-cell creatures are encircling Earth.//

These nanostructures, harboring yeast or other unicellular organisms are riding on the International Space Station, to test if they can secure safer homes for their occupants amidst the vacuum and radiations of outer space, than those created by standard chemical procedures.

These experiments are carried out courtesy of Sandia, a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory, University of New Mexico, NASA and the US Air Force.

"Cheap, tiny, and very lightweight sensors of chemical or biological agents could be made from long-lived cells that require no upkeep, yet sense and then communicate effectively with each other and their external environment," says former UNM graduate student and Sandia consultant Helen Baca, lead author on the paper. Baca was advised by Sandia Fellow and UNM professor of chemical engineering, molecular genetics & microbiology Jeff Brinker.

Groups of such long-lived cells may also serve as models to investigate how tuberculosis bacteria survive long periods of dormancy within human bodies.

En masse, they also may be used to generate signals to repel harmful bacteria from the surfaces of surgical tools like catheters.

Finally, the method also offers a simple method to genetically modify cells.

"This is not the end of the story, but the beginning," says Brinker. "No one else has created these symbiotic materials and observed these effects. It's a totally new area."

But how does all this happen?

Probably you want more details

What better arrangement when building a new house than for the architect to consult with the tenants?

In a paper in the July 21 issue of Science, a team of researchers from Sandia and UNM under the leadership of Brinker demonstrated that common yeast cells (as well as bacteri
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