Muscle cells from the Hospital of Florida's Translational Research Institute will be used to develop treatments for age-related muscle loss. ORLANDO, Fla., November 19, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Several Central Floridians are on a mission in space – well, a small part of them, anyway. Muscle cells from study participants at the Hospital of Florida Translational Research Institute […]
Muscle cells from the Hospital of Florida's Translational Research Institute will be used to develop treatments for age-related muscle loss.
ORLANDO, Fla., November 19, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Several Central Floridians are on a mission in space – well, a small part of them, anyway.
Muscle cells from participants at the Florida Hospital's Institute of Translational Research for Metabolism and Diabetes were shipped to the International Space Station on Saturday as part of an experiment to examine the effects of a weightless environment on muscle health.
"We know that microgravity has quite damaging effects on skeletal muscle; after a long time in space, astronauts return in a very weak state and are often confined to wheelchairs until their muscles can recover, "said Paul Coen, a researcher at the Translational Research Institute (TRI)." This experiment will allow us to study the effects of microgravity on muscle cell biology. "
The TRI is part of the largest Research Institute of the Hospital of Florida, and aims to fill the gap between the research laboratory and the patient's bed. Researchers and medical professionals collaborate in clinical trials to address some of today's major health problems, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The findings of spaceflight will be important because the research can also be applied to find treatments for age-related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia.
The samples came from eight participants in a recent study on aging and muscle loss, which was supported by the National Institute on Aging and led by Dr. Coen. They took off at 4:01 am on Saturday, November 17, aboard a Cygnus freighter from the NASA flight facility at Wallops Island, Virginia. The Cygnus was erected in space on top of a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket.
The cells went into orbit in a "lab on a chip" developed in part by Siobhan Malany, a scientist at Sanford Burnham Prebys and president of Micro-gRx. The Malany company received a $ 200,000 prize from Space Florida through the Florida-Israel Innovation Partnerships Program. Micro-gRx partnered with SpacePharma, a research and development company, to develop mini-lab technology. Additional funding from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) provides Malany's team with access to the International Space Station through a partnership with Space Tango, a NASA-certified flight implementation partner based in Lexington, Ky.
Because the cells have a limited life span, there will be only a brief window to study the effects of weight loss, Malany said.
"We expect to have seven days of microgravity, so the samples will be preserved, frozen and stored until they are brought back to the Dragon SpaceX capsule, probably in January," she said. "Essentially, they are shipped to us by FedEx from the middle of the ocean." The team will study the changes in gene expression in the cells sent to space compared to the cells that remained on Earth.
Each chip is slightly smaller than a business card, said Malany, with four 2-centimeter squares. There will be two chips, which means there will be eight separate experiments in progress.
All told, the lab is contained in a 10-by-30-centimeter box, including plates, electronics, pumps, fluids and a small microscope that will carry several images along the cells in orbit, Malany said. Future missions will also contain a camera and additional electronics to monitor muscle contraction, she added.
The program has received enough funding for two more launches after this month's flight.
Information about participating in a TRI study is available by calling 877-854-8475 or online at www.tri-md.org.
For media issues only, call Florida Hospital Corporate Communications at 407-303-5950.
Source: Health Care