Why SpaceX has distributed live pieces of human organs into NASA space



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While experiments on how life in space affects the human body are certainly not new, there is still much that we do not really understand about the effects of living in space for long periods of time.

To find out more, the scientists have sent a new technology called tissue chips containing human organ cells to the International Space Station (ISS). These chips may help predict the effectiveness of certain potential medicines in humans.

Under the effects of microgravity, human cells and disease age rapidly.
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According to a NASA press release, microgravity can cause changes in human cells that appear similar to accelerated aging and disease processes.

While in orbit in the ISS, microgravity rapidly changes the bodies of astronauts. Itt suppresses the immune system, and your muscles and bones atrophy.

Each of the chips that were transported is designed to mimic a different part of the human body. A large amount of cells were sent to the ISS, from the kidneys and lungs to the bones and the blood-brain barrier.

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As part of the investigation, a fluid that mimics blood and may contain drugs or toxins will pass through the chips.

That means scientists will be able to analyze how a few weeks in microgravity would affect cells, rather than having to spend months in a similar experiment on Earth.

Ultimately, this will allow researchers to learn more about keeping astronauts healthy during long-term space travel.

They also believe that research will be critical to the development of new medical treatments on Earth.

The telomeres, in white, are structures at the tips of the chromosomes (in blue).
NIH

Under the effects of microgravity, human cells age rapidly

Changes that normally occur in a few months on Earth take only a few weeks in space. This is thought to be related to boundaries at the end of the chromosomes in our cells, called telomeres, that help protect our DNA from damage.

As we age or experience stress, those limits shrink. Scientists believe that telomeres should change in size while you are in space – not just aging and natural causes, but other stressors, including cosmic radiation and zero gravity.

By sending these cells to the ISS, scientists will also be able to explore the effects of new drugs on diseases at a faster rate.

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