The Humanion Arkive Year Delta 2018-19
September 24: 2018-September 23:2019
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First Published: September 24: 2015































Hearteogenics Arkive

Mind Set in Engineering: An Educator Building Mars Rover at NAS















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Aerospace Medicine and Rehabilitation Laboratory is Up and Running


|| May 03: 2017: Northumbria University News || ά. Scientists at Northumbria University, Newcastle, are helping to write the medical rulebook, that will keep astronauts fit and healthy during long trips through the solar system. While working at the European Astronaut Centre:EAC, in Germany, Northumbria’s Dr Andrew Winnard realised there was very little evidence, housed under one roof on what changes expected to occur in astronauts during spaceflight and what interventions worked best to try and prevent these changes. Dr Winnard, further, noticed that there was no systematic review group for the entire aerospace medicine field, like there were for almost all other areas of medicine.

He recommended a systematic review group for aerospace medicine, to look at the effectiveness of interventions to prevent health and fitness changes among astronauts and military and civil aviators, that will facilitate reviews to inform operational medical guidelines and decision-making processes. The learning will be used to inform medical practice on Earth, such as in the treatment of lower back pain. Northumbria is working with experts in the fields from a range of institutions across the globe to launch this review group at an aerospace medicine conference in the US in May 2017. The group is to launching its website  at the Aerospace Medical Association 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting in Denver, taking place now, which ends tomorrow.

Northumbria University is working with the University of Plymouth, the Aerospace Medical Association:AsMA, the European Space Agency:ESA, the Royal Air Force:RAF the International Space University and Blue Abyss, the world’s largest research, training and development pool for marine and aerospace. The Aerospace Medicine Systematic Review Group will facilitate pooling of studies done in aerospace medicine under one roof and ensure that results of reviews are used to feed into comprehensive guidelines, that will feed into major operational decisions.

Dr Winnard, Lecturer in Clinical:Musculoskeletal Biomechanics at Northumbria University and Co-ordinator of the UK Space Environments Association, said, “The group is developing and publishing methods, that can be used by anyone undertaking aerospace systematic reviews. These tools help researchers understand and assess what is good quality aerospace research.

For example, one tool already developed and available freely online, at our website, helps researchers determine the quality of bed rest studies often used to similar spaceflight for research.

Already the ESA is hoping the group can help lead reviews to answer questions such as, what exercises will work in small spacecraft on missions, that return to the moon, compared to on the International Space Station:ISS, and also, asking how the medical challenges will be different on the moon compared to what we are familiar with on ISS.”

Dr Mona Nasser, from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, said, “Systematic reviews are vital to helping clinicians, researchers and the public make sense of published research. Research evidence needs to be considered in the context of evidence, which has gone before in the form of a systematic review.

Only by looking at the full picture in a systematic manner can we hope to glean a glimmer of understanding. By bringing the discipline of the systematic review to research around aerospace medicine, we believe, we can help aerospace clinicians make the most of the research available to improve their practices and benefit their patients. That this can be translated to ‘Earth-bound’ medicine is, also, exciting.”

Northumbria University has already worked with ESA and international collaborators including astronauts to conduct a systematic review of the effectiveness of exercise to protect the lower spine and pelvis from changes that happen in space.

The review found no current researched exercises were fully effective at preventing these changes so post flight rehab was needed. Northumbria is now developing the ‘Functional Re-adaptive Exercise Device’, known as FRED, which has been created to combat the back problems astronauts suffer when they return to earth. The device can, also, be used by those that have developed back pain on Earth.

Former NASA Astronaut Mr Dan Barry said, ''As more people go into space and as space exploration expands beyond low earth orbit, effective countermeasures to low gravity environments become even more essential for crew health and mission success.

Existing literature on space health topics is widely scattered and of highly variable quality. A dedicated systematic aerospace medicine review group is important to provide a consistent, high quality assessment of findings, that will lead to improved medical decisions."

Wing Commander Mr Pete Hodkinson, Consultant in Aviation and Space Medicine for the RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine, said, “Aerospace medicine, like all other areas of medicine, is striving to improve the evidence base to its practice. The establishment of an aerospace medicine systematic review group is a great step towards more evidence based practice in this field; it is warmly welcomed and strongly supported by the RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine.” ω.

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Study Examines the Effects of Spaceflight on the Immune System

Image: NASA Video-Capture

|| April 09: 2017: Jenny Howard Writing || ά. Getting sick isn’t fun for anyone but it could be especially taxing for crew members aboard the International Space Station. Protecting crew health is important as NASA prepares for long duration, deep-space missions. Functional Immune, a new investigation taking place in the orbiting laboratory, studies previously uninvestigated areas of the body’s immune response and whether spaceflight alters a crew member’s susceptibility to diseases.

The immune system is a complex weaving of biological structures and processes. Decreased activity in just one piece can cause changes in disease risk within the human body. Studies have shown that, in microgravity, there are immune system modifications. This may create an environment where, in some crew members, rashes, unusual allergies and latent virus reactivation may present themselves. “We’re seeing alterations in the numbers of immune cells in the blood, reduced function in some of these populations and changes in the proteins cells make.” said Hawley Kunz, an Immunologist at KBRwyle.

“Your immune system is relatively stable, so when you start seeing changes, it is often indicative of the presence of environmental stressors with increased clinical risk.” Researchers are, also, finding latent viruses are reactivating but do not cause sickness in crew members. Evidence of viral ‘shedding’, virus DNA present in otherwise healthy individuals, has been found in crew member blood, urine and saliva samples.

This can happen anytime the immune system is weakened in microgravity or even in stressful situations on Earth. Scientists are working to define and, perhaps, develop mitigations for, immune issues before embarking on deep space missions, where the immune system will be subjected to microgravity conditions for longer periods of time.

“We evolved to exist in a sea of microbes and we evolved an immune system to mitigate that.” said Brian Crucian, Immunologist and Principal Investigator at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston. “When the immune system is a little bit compromised, we may observe these alterations without progression to illness. This is basically where we are during orbital spaceflight. However, changes in physiology we are seeing on station have the potential to be greater on the way to Mars.”

The current Functional Immune investigation builds on other immunological studies but examines previously uninvestigated aspects, in an effort to better characterise the effect of spaceflight on the immune system as a whole. The new study, also, includes investigators from the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory, as well as external investigators from the University of Houston and Stony Brook School of Medicine.

Knowing how the immune system functions in flight will guide the way toward countermeasures that may need to be developed in the future. Some basic immune preventative measures such as standard use of protective vaccines, good nutrition, and exercise as well as pre-flight quarantine of astronauts, protection from microbes by screening and treatment of food and drink, pasteurisation and HEPA air filters are already in place to help prevent diseases, bacteria and viruses finding their way on to the station and causing a problem for the crew.

For deep space missions, where crew members won’t have access to rapid-return options, remaining healthy is important both for the crew member’s safety and the success of the mission. “On Earth, you usually don’t go to the doctor until you get sick.” said Crucian. “There aren’t a lot of areas of research looking at the immune changes that might precede disease or increase your susceptibility to disease. We are looking at just such a state during flight.”

Results from this investigation will benefit more than just crew members. In addition to the ability to detect and treat a disease before its onset, the methods developed to stabilise samples for transportation can be used to benefit immune studies on Earth, such as in areas without a laboratory readily available.

“The number one goal of this investigation is to complete the characterization of the immune system.” said Crucian. After the characterisation is complete, plans to counteract potential clinical risks can be made to bring us one step closer to our Journey to Mars.

Jenny Howard: International Space Station Programme Science Office: Johnson Space Centre. ω.

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Chinese Scientists Breed the World's First Space Mangoes

The conceptuses, that grew out of the embryonic cells, brought back from space.
Screenshot by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, of CCTV report

|| April 03: 2017: Chinese Academy of Sciences News || ά. This is a short report but it tells the world a profoundly significant development. The embryonic cells of the mango, that were sent to space, have now been brought back by the humanned spacecraft Shenzhou XI last November. These embryonic cells did spend the 33-day space mission time at the International Space Station and have now, not only been brought back home but also been grown into new tissues at a lab in South China's Hainan province.

These cells were developed under an experiment designed to cultivate a new variety of mango through environmental mutation in space. Scientists' next stage task is to study how the mutation can affect the fruit and further cultivate the breed, that can become 'space mangoes'. Space mangoes are expected to be insect-resistant, of higher quality and provide more output." said Peng Longrong, Head of the project, said to CCTV. ω.

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Do You Remember the Question: Samantha Cristoforetti



|| March 15: 2017 || ά. Forty-two is the answer but what is the question? Scientists from the University of Zurich wanted to probe how immune cells adapt to weightlessness so they sent an experiment to the International Space Station with ESA. All life on Earth has evolved under gravity but most fare well in space, including astronauts. During her mission on the Space Station in 2015, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti thawed frozen immune cells from mammals and placed them in ESA’s Biolab centrifuge, which generates artificial gravity.

The cells were spun to recreate different levels of gravity, from zero to the level we feel on Earth, allowing researchers to compare samples and exclude other factors in the results. “Although the immune cells went into disarray in weightlessness, they reacted ultra-rapidly and came to a full recovery inside 42 seconds.” reports Oliver Ullrich, professor at the University of Zurich.

Like any good science experiment, the answer begs even more questions, such as how mammalian cells with no evolutionary experience of weightlessness are able to adapt so quickly to it. Whatever the answer may be, the outlook is positive for long-duration human spaceflight.

“There’s hope that our cells are able to cope much better with zero gravity than we previously thought.” Prof Ullrich concludes.

The results have been published by Nature. ω.

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Study at ISS: The Initiation of the Experiment of Consuming Probiotics, Lactobacillus Casei Strain Shirota, by the ISS-Astronauts to Study the Impact on the Immune System and Intestinal Microbiota of the Aastronauts

Image: ISS: NASA. Inset Image: JAXA

|| March 01: 2017 || ά. Announcement on the initiation of the experiment consuming probiotics, Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, on the International Space Station: Research on the impact on the immune system and intestinal microbiota of astronauts: Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency:JAXA have been jointly researching the effect of probiotics on the human immune system and intestinal microbiota in a microgravity environment since FY2014. This joint research aims to contribute to maintaining and improving the health and performance of astronauts.

It is also intended to make contributions toward promoting human health in general by utilising the knowledge gained in this joint research for the development of probiotics research on the ground. It is ready to begin the world's first experiment of consecutive consumption of probiotics by crewmembers on ISS, based on the outcomes of ground-based research activities conducted from FY2014 to FY2015 and the storage test of the capsule containing freeze-dried live probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, on board of the ISS conducted in FY2016.

It was confirmed that the number of live probiotics in the flight sample was equivalent to those in the ground control samples. Yakult and JAXA will initiate the space experiment from 2017, which is a scientific study of the effect caused by the consecutive consumption of probiotics on the human immune system and intestinal microbiota of astronauts staying on the ISS for long periods of time.

Background of this joint research

In February 2012, Yakult participated in the Kibo Utilisation Forum established for promotion of utilisation of the Japanese Experiment Module known as Kibo on ISS, and formed the Intestinal Environment Improvement Research Group. The research group's aim was to study the effect, in space, of lactic acid bacteria which has been proved to improve the intestinal environment and restoration and retention of immunity on the ground. In the process, Yakult approached JAXA about the possibility of conducting a joint research in this field.

Meanwhile, JAXA had established a space medical biology laboratory in April 2007 and has been carrying out medicine research aimed at astronauts as well as life science research targeting all life forms. Astronauts work in space, which is an extreme working environment of microgravity inside a closed spacecraft, and they are known to experience deterioration of immune function as well as bone density and muscular atrophy.

In order to ensure a successful manned space flight, it is necessary to maintain the mental and physical health of the astronauts to enable them to fully demonstrate their capability. As one of the measures to tackle such issues, JAXA has been examining utilization of functional space food incorporating probiotics* among other ingredients. Space development organizations in other countries are also about to embark on similar research.

For these reasons, Yakult and JAXA reached an agreement to embark on the joint research on probiotics in humans in space ahead of other countries. The joint research is aimed at scientific examination of the influence of continuous consumption of probiotics, Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, on the immune function and gut microbiota of astronauts stationed at ISS for a long period.

We are also aiming to expand its scope to study how the impact of probiotic changes in outer space. The joint research, which combines the expertise Yakult has acquired over the years in gut microbiota research with JAXA's space biomedical research-related knowledge and laboratory technique in space, aims to not only allow astronauts to demonstrate their capabilities to the full extent but also contribute to the advancement of space medicine, often termed as ultimate preventive medicine, which is also expected to be applied on the ground. ω.

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NASA Twins Study on Scott and Mark Kelly: Initial Findings: This is the Beginning of the Opening of Many Frontiers Yet Unimagined

|| February 06: 2017 || ά. Preliminary research results for the NASA Twins Study debuted at NASA’s Human Research Program’s annual Investigators’ Workshop in Galveston, Texas the week of January 23. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned home last March after nearly one year in space living on the International Space Station. His identical twin brother, Mark, remained on Earth.  Researchers found this to be a great opportunity for a nature versus nurture study, thus the Twins Study was formed. Using Mark, a retired NASA astronaut, as a ground-based control subject, ten researchers are sharing biological samples taken from each twin before, during and after Scott’s mission.

From these samples, knowledge is gained as to how the body is affected by extended time in space. These studies are far from complete. Additional research analysis is in process. Identical twins, Scott and Mark Kelly, are the subjects of NASA’s Twins Study.  Susan Bailey’s investigation focuses on Telomeres and Telomerase. It is understood that when looked at over many years, telomeres decrease in length as a person ages. Interestingly, on a time scale of just one year, Bailey found Scott’s telomeres on the ends of chromosomes in his white blood cells increased in length while in space.  This could be linked to increased exercise and reduced caloric intake during the mission.

However, upon his return to Earth they began to shorten again. Interestingly, telomerase activity, the enzyme that repairs the telomeres and lengthens them, increased in both twins in November, which may be related to a significant, stressful family event happening around that time. Mathias Basner’s study, Cognitive Performance in Spaceflight, is looking at cognition, especially the difference found during a 12-month mission as compared to six-month missions. Following the one-year mission, he found a slight decrease in speed and accuracy post mission. Overall, however, the data does not support a relevant change in cognitive performance inflight by increasing the mission duration from six to 12 months.

In the Biochemical Profile investigation, headed by Scott Smith, there appeared to be a decline in bone formation during the second half of Scott’s mission. Also, by looking at C Reactive Protein levels, a widely accepted biochemical marker for inflammation, there appeared to be a spike in inflammation soon after landing, likely related to the stresses of re-entry and landing. The stress hormone Cortisol was low normal throughout the one-year mission, but IGF-1 hormone levels increased over the course of the year. This hormone is implicated with bone and muscle health and was likely impacted by heavy exercise countermeasures during flight.

Fred Turek’s focus is on the Microbiome in the GI Tract or 'bugs' naturally found in the gut to aid in digestion. Differences in the viral, bacterial and fungal microbiome between the twins were pronounced at all time points; however, this was expected due to their differing diet and environment. Of interest were the differences in microbial species observed in Scott on the ground versus his time in space. One shift was a change in ratio of two dominant bacterial groups, i.e., Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes present in his GI tract. The ratio of one group to the other increased during flight and returned to pre-flight levels upon return to Earth.

Emmanuel Mignot’s investigation, Immunome Studies, looks at changes in the body before and after a flu vaccine was administered to each twin. Following flu vaccines, 'personalised' T-Cell receptors were created. These unique T-Cell receptors increased in both twins which was the expected immune response that protects from catching the flu.

Chris Mason is performing Genome Sequencing on the DNA and RNA contained within the twins’ white blood cells with his investigation. Whole genome sequencing was completed and showed each twin has hundreds of unique mutations in their genome, which are normal variants. RNA:transcriptome, sequencing showed more than 200,000 RNA molecules that were expressed differently between the twins. They will look closer to see if a 'space gene' could have been activated while Scott was in space.

Andy Feinberg studies Epigenomics or how the environment regulates our gene expression. In the DNA within Scott’s white blood cells, he found that the level of methylation or chemical modifications to DNA, decreased while inflight, including a gene regulating telomeres but returned to normal upon return. On the ground, Mark’s level of methylation in the DNA derived from his white blood cells increased at the midpoint of the study but returned to normal in the end. Variability was observed in the methylation patterns from both twins; however, this epigenetic noise was slightly higher in Scott during spaceflight and then returned to baseline levels after return to Earth. These results could indicate genes that are more sensitive to a changing environment whether on Earth or in space.

Through further research integrating these preliminary findings, in co-ordination with other physiological, psychological and technological investigations, NASA and its partners will continue to ensure that astronauts undertake future space exploration missions safely, efficiently and effectively. A joint summary publication is planned for later in 2017, to be followed by investigator research articles.

NASA's Human Research Programme enables space exploration by reducing the risks to human health and performance through a focused programme of basic, applied and operational research. This leads to the development and delivery of: human health, performance, and habitability standards; countermeasures and risk mitigation solutions; and advanced habitability and medical support technologies.

Monica Edwards: Laurie Abadie: NASA Human Research Engagement & Communications

: Editor: Timothy Gushanas: NASA: ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Tokyo Institute of Technology Research: Gravitational Biology: Real Time Imaging and Transcriptome Analysis of Medaka Fish Aboard ISS

|| January 10: 2017: Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan News || ά. Akira Kudo at Tokyo Tech and colleagues report in Scientific Reports, December 2016, that live-imaging and transcriptome analysis of medaka fish transgenic lines lead to immediate alteration of cells responsible for bone structure formation. These findings are important for assessing the effects microgravity on long term human space missions. Space travel in a reduced gravity environment can have lasting effects on the body.

For example, researches clearly show that astronauts undergo a significant drop in bone mineral density during space missions, but the precise molecular mechanisms responsible for such changes in bone structure are unclear. Akira Kudo at Tokyo Tech, together with scientists in Japan in support of other countries, performed remotely live-imaging, real time, for fluorescent signals derived from osteoblasts and osteoclasts of medaka fish after only one day of exposure to microgravity aboard the International Space Station.

Figure One and Two: Bone metabolism under microgravity: Increase of fluorescent signals of osteoblasts and osteoclasts in medaka. a-d: Whole-body imaging of the osterix-DsRed transgenic line. The left-side images show the same ground control at day one; and the right-side images, the same flight medaka at day one. Arrows point to the head and fin region. All images show ventral views. Montage images were made from six captured optical images, divided by dotted lines, a,b. The white region shows an osterix-DsRed fluorescent signal. Embedded views show the enlarged head region, c,d. e: The fluorescent intensity from day one to seven of observation day constantly increased in the flight group. f-h: The representative visualizing data for osterix-DsRed:TRAP-GFP in the flight group. All images show ventral views in the head region. i-l,: The merged images were captured by three-D views for osterix-DsRed and TRAP-GFP in the pharyngeal bone region of the double transgenic line. The pharyngeal bone region in the ground control, i, or the flight, k group at day four. The image for TRAP-GFP in the pharyngeal bone region of 'i', j or 'k', l. lp, lower pharyngeal bone; c, cleithrum. GFP signals identify osteoclasts:OC.

They found increases in both osteoblast and osteoclast specific promoter-driven GFP and DsRed signals one day after launch, and continued for up to eight days.In their experiments, the team used four different double medaka transgenic lines focusing on up-regulation of fluorescent signals of osteoblasts and osteoclasts to clarify the effect of gravity on the interaction of osteoblast-osteoclast. They also studied changes in the gene expression in the transgenic fish by so-celled transcriptome analysis.

These findings suggest that exposure to microgravity induced an immediate 'dynamic alteration of gene expressions in osteoblasts and osteoclasts'. Namely, these experiments based on real time imaging of medaka from Earth and transcriptome analysis could be the prelude to the establishment of a new scientific areas of research in 'gravitational biology'. 


The live-imaging of fluorescence microscopy signals from the fish aboard the ISS were monitored remotely from Tsukuba Space Centre in Japan. Live-imaging of osteoblasts showed the intensity of osterix and osteocalcin-DsRed in pharyngeal bones to increase one day after launch. This increased effect continued for eight days for osterix and 5 days for osteocalcin.

In the case of osteoclasts, the fluorescent signals observed from TRAP-GFP and MMP9-DsRed increased significantly on the fourth and sixth days after launch. The fluorescent analysis was complimented by using transcriptome analysis to measure gene expression in the transgenic fish. The researchers state that HiSeq from pharyngeal bones of juvenile fish at day two after launch showed up-regulation of two osteoblast and three osteoclast related genes.

Also, transcription of the 'nucleus' was found to be significantly enhanced based on whole body gene ontology analysis of RNA-Seq, with the researchers observing transcription-regulators to be more up-regulated at day two compared with during day six.

Finally, Kudo and the team identified five genes: c-fos and jun-b, pai-1 and ddit4, and tsc22d3, that were all up-regulated in the whole-body on days two and six, and in the pharyngeal bone on day two.


Live in so-called 'microgravity' environments where the force of gravity is considerably less than on Earth, can cause significant problems for the human body. Astronauts who spend a number of months in space have been shown to suffer from reduced bone mineral density, leading to skeletal problems. Surprisingly, the loss of calcium starts at least 10 days after launch in astronauts in Skylab Flights, as to symptoms that appear early in orbit.

The precise molecular mechanisms responsible for loss of bone density are not yet fully understood. The current study by Kudo and his team is a major step towards uncovering the mechanisms governing changes in bone structure immediately after the onset of microgravity, when bone loss is triggered. By remote live-imaging from Tsukuba Space Centre of the behaviour of medaka on board the ISS, they found significant increases in both osteoblast and osteoclast specific promoter-driven GFP and DsRed after exposure to microgravity. The findings imply that changes in osteoblasts and osteoclasts occur very soon after launch.


In the next space experiment, Kudo and colleagues will clarify the role of glucocorticoid receptor:GR on cells in microgravity.

Reference: Acute transcriptional up-regulation specific for osteoblasts/osteoclasts in medaka fish immediately after exposure to microgravity Scientific Reports, 6: 39545 (2016), DOI: 10.1038/srep39545

Masahiro Chatani,1, Hiroya Morimoto,1 Kazuhiro Takeyama,1 Akiko Mantoku,1 Naoki Tanigawa,2 Koji Kubota,2 Hiromi Suzuki,3 Satoko Uchida,3 Fumiaki Tanigaki,4 Masaki Shirakawa,4 Oleg Gusev,5, Vladimir Sychev,6 Yoshiro Takano,7 Takehiko Itoh,1 and Akira Kudo1

1 Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Yokohama 226-8501, Japan
2 Chiyoda Corporation, Yokohama 220-8765, Japan
3 Department of Science and Applications, Japan Space Forum, Tokyo 101-0062, Japan
4 Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tsukuba 305-8505, Japan
5 Institute of Fundamental Medicine and Biology, Kazan Federal University, Kazan 420008, Russia
6 SSC RF-Institute of Biomedical Problems RAS, Moscow, Russia
7 Section of Biostructural Science, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences,
Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo 113-8549, Japan
Corresponding author: Akira Kudo, PhD, Department of Biological Information, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 4259-B-33 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama 226-8501, Japan. Tel: 81-45-924-5718, Fax: 81-45-924-5718, E-mail: akudo at

About Tokyo Institute of Technology:Tokyo Tech: Tokyo Institute of Technology stands at the forefront of research and higher education as the leading university for science and technology in Japan. Tokyo Tech researchers excel in a variety of fields, such as material science, biology, computer science and physics. Founded in 1881, Tokyo Tech has grown to host 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students who become principled leaders of their fields and some of the most sought-after scientists and engineers at top companies. Embodying the Japanese philosophy of 'monotsukuri', meaning technical ingenuity and innovation, the Tokyo Tech community strives to make significant contributions to society through high-impact research. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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ESA Innovation Exchange: When Space Meets Health: November 08

Image: When Space Meets Health

|| October 16: 2016 || ά. Health industry could work with space industry to create common solutions. A workshop on November 08 with healthcare professionals and space engineers from ESA will focus on defining cross-synergy and joint activities between the two sectors. Part of ESA's Innovation Exchange and a follow-on to the Space for Inspiration in London in September, the workshop is a result of ESA's new engagement strategy to work with other sectors to involve industry and other stakeholders closer in the Agency's space activities and to define what space exploration could take direct advantages of.

Participants will include WHO, the worldwide healthcare initiative EIT Health, and Charité Berlin, one of the largest university hospitals in Europe. Organised by ESA's Human Space Flight and Robotics Exploration directorate with support from ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office, the workshop will focus on the transfer of medical know-how and space-based technologies for the benefit of both space exploration and society on Earth.

The one-day workshop aim is to initiate a closer collaboration between ESA experts, medical specialists and experts in complementary field of knowledge, to initiate activities which could help to find quicker solutions to health problems.

More on the one-day “ESA Innovation Exchange: When space meets health” workshop and for registration visit the ESA website. ω.

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First DNA Sequencing in Space: An Astronomical Step Forward


NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins sequenced DNA in space for the first time ever for the Biomolecule Sequencer investigation, using the MinION sequencing device. Image: NASA


|| September 01: 2016: Melissa Gaskill Writing|| ά. For the first time ever, DNA was successfully sequenced in microgravity as part of the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment performed by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins this weekend aboard the International Space Station. The ability to sequence the DNA of living organisms in space opens a whole new world of scientific and medical possibilities. This is an astronomical step forward for Medicine. And The Humanion has named all this and a million other new avenues of advancing medicine in the cosmos, Hearteogenics, Kate Rubins. And we congratulate you and all your team members spread across the Earth and on board the beautiful ISS, on this awe-inspiring achievement.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, contains the instructions each cell in an organism on Earth needs to live. These instructions are represented by the letters A, G, C and T, which stand for the four chemical bases of DNA, adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. Both the number and arrangement of these bases differ among organisms, so their order, or sequence, can be used to identify a specific organism. The Biomolecule Sequencer investigation moved us closer to this ability to sequence DNA in space by demonstrating, for the first time, that DNA sequencing is possible in an orbiting spacecraft.

With a way to sequence DNA in space, astronauts could diagnose an illness, or identify microbes growing in the International Space Station and determine whether or not they represent a health threat. A space-based DNA sequencer would be an important tool to help protect astronaut health during long duration missions on the journey to Mars, and future explorers could also potentially use the technology to identify DNA-based life forms beyond Earth.

The Biomolecule Sequencer investigation sent samples of mouse, virus and bacteria DNA to the space station to test a commercially available DNA sequencing device called MinION, developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies. The MinION works by sending a positive current through pores embedded in membranes inside the device, called nanopores. At the same time, fluid containing a DNA sample passes through the device. Individual DNA molecules partially block the nanopores and change the current in a way that is unique to that particular DNA sequence. By looking at these changes, researchers can identify the specific DNA sequence.

Rubins, who has a background in molecular biology, conducted the test aboard the station while researchers simultaneously sequenced identical samples on the ground. The tests were set up to attempt to make spaceflight conditions, primarily microgravity, the only variables that could account for differences in results. For example, the samples were prepared on the ground for sequencing and researchers selected organisms whose DNA has already been completely sequenced so that they knew what results to expect.

Using the device in the microgravity environment introduces several potential challenges, according to Aaron Burton, NASA planetary scientist and principal investigator, including the formation of air bubbles in the fluid. On Earth, bubbles rise to the top of a liquid solution and can be removed by centrifuge, but in space, bubbles are less predictable.

“In space, if an air bubble is introduced, we don’t know how it will behave,” said Burton. “Our biggest concern is that it could block the nanopores.” The technology demonstration also seeks to validate that the device is durable enough to withstand vibration during launch and can operate reliably in a microgravity environment when it comes to the measurement of changes in current or the conversion of those changes into DNA sequences. In addition, researchers will be looking for any other factors that could produce errors or impact performance on orbit.

“Those are just the potential problems we’ve identified,” said project manager and NASA microbiologist Sarah Castro-Wallace. “A lot of the things that might introduce errors are simply unknown at this point.” To minimise those unknowns, researchers recently tested the entire sequencing process on a NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation, or NEEMO, in the Aquarius Base research facility 60 feet underwater off the coast of Florida.

“The NEEMO tests went smoothly,” Castro-Wallace said. “In terms of a harsh environment, with different humidity, temperature and pressure, we looked at a lot of variables and the sequencer performed as expected.” NEEMO aquanauts collected environmental samples from the habitat, extracted and prepared the DNA for sequencing, and finally sequenced the DNA as part of a continuation of the Biomolecule Sequencer investigation. Testing this sample-to-sequencer process in an extreme environment is an important step towards its use on the ISS.

The investigation team includes others at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center and Ames Research Center, as well as partners at Weill Cornell Medical College and University of California at San Francisco. As the researchers compare results from the sequences collected in microgravity and on Earth, so far everything seems to match up.

“A next step is to test the entire process in space, including sample preparation as well as performing the sequencing,” said Castro-Wallace. Then astronauts can move beyond creating a known DNA sequence and actually extract, prepare and sequence DNA to identify unknown microbes on orbit. “Onboard sequencing makes it possible for the crew to know what is in their environment at any time,” Castro-Wallace said. “That allows us on the ground to take appropriate action – do we need to clean this up right away, or will taking antibiotics help or not? We can resupply the station with disinfectants and antibiotics now, but once crews move beyond the station’s low Earth orbit, we need to know when to save those precious resources and when to use them.”

In addition, the sequencer can become a tool for other science investigations aboard the station. For example, researchers could use it to examine changes in genetic material or gene expression on orbit rather than waiting for the samples to return to Earth for testing. "Welcome to systems biology in space,” said Rubins after the first few DNA molecules had been sequenced successfully. She went on to thank the ground team for their efforts. “It is very exciting to be with you guys together at the dawn of genomics biology and systems biology in space."

Melissa Gaskill: International Space Station Program Office: NASA Johnson Space Centre

:Editor: Kristine Rainey:NASA: ω.

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Measuring Brain Pressure in Space

Image: Principia

|| June 12: 2016 || ά. Astronauts’ vision sometimes suffers when in space, and it is thought that this is caused by increased brain pressure, which presses onto the back of the eye. A NASA experiment is looking at how fluid shifting in the body might cause this but a key challenge is actually measuring the brain pressure in space. A pioneering British company has developed a unique device to address this, which could also have many uses on Earth, for example in emergency or intensive care situations.

One of the risks of spaceflight is that, in weightlessness, fluid in the body shifts, mostly in a head-ward direction. This can increase brain pressure, which may in turn push on the back of the eye, affecting astronauts’ vision. Many astronauts have complained of temporary problems with their eyesight, but how and why this happens is not very well understood. A NASA experiment called Fluid Shifts is looking at the underlying physiology, monitoring the changes in astronauts’ bodies and testing ways to counteract them.

One of the most important signs to measure is the change in brain pressure but monitoring this is a challenging task in space. A British company, Marchbanks Measurements Systems:MMS Ltd, has pioneered a unique solution: a simple, non-invasive device which is placed in the ear.

Research at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust shows that there is an open fluid link between the brain and ear. Brain pressure changes are transferred to the inner ear and are measured in term of tympanic membrane displacement:TMD by the MMS Cerebral and Cochlear Fluid Pressure:CCFP Analyser. Both baseline pressure shifts and pressure waves can be measured. The baseline pressure is a surrogate for lumbar puncture, sometimes called a ‘spinal tap’, and it is thought that the brain pressure waves provide a ‘signature’ to underlying disorders. This will be a crucial part of the Fluid Shifts investigation.

Marchbanks Measurement Systems from Southampton is headed by Dr Robert Marchbanks. He and his team have developed a method which uses slight changes in the inner ear to assess brain pressure. This is not only useful for monitoring astronaut health, but could have widespread application on the ground. For example, in emergency situations, being able to quickly and accurately measure a patient’s brain pressure leads to speedier treatmen; crucial in determining a their medical outcomes. ω.


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O, Three Blind Mice

Image: NASA

|| May 28: 2016 || ά.  Astronauts know their bodies will be tested during time spent on the International Space Station, from the 15 daily sunrises and sunsets wreaking havoc on their circadian rhythms to the lack of gravity that weakens bone density and muscle. NASA is working to counteract these otherworldly challenges to enable long-term human exploration of space. For example, special lighting helps with sleep, and rigorous exercise helps keep astronauts’ bodies strong.

But, frustratingly, bone loss continues to occur. With missions to Mars on the horizon, the agency is increasingly interested in potential new treatments to help protect astronauts’ bodies. “As scientists, we want to know what are the mechanisms that effect bone loss, what are the mechanisms that effect muscle loss,” says Jacob Cohen, chief scientist at Ames Research Center. “We want to make sure we keep the crew as healthy as possible, so when they come back, they have a normal life.”

A Model of Success

To advance understanding of how zero gravity affects bone density, scientists from Ames Research Center teamed up with BioServe Space Technologies, University of Colorado Boulder, and Amgen, of Thousand Oaks, California, for a series of three experiments conducted on mice.

Amgen was already working on treatments for osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones in middle-aged women and older men. Louis Stodieck, a research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and BioServe’s director, put Amgen researchers in touch with Ames to design the rodent research in microgravity.

“The idea is, you can assess how things might occur in humans if you have good animal models that can predict what the human response is going to be,” both to weightlessness and to any possible treatment to counteract it, Stodieck says.

During three separate space shuttle flights, groups of 15 mice, all about 10 weeks old, were sent into microgravity for two-week stints. Each time, one group was treated with a molecule designed to mitigate the loss of bone density and muscle strength, while a second group was given a placebo. Other mice got the same treatments but remained on Earth as a control group.

Make No Bones About It

Although mice and humans don't have identical physiology or biology, mice can still be used to help identify some basic mechanisms that are similar in humans and for early therapeutic studies. And since mice physiology, anatomy and genetics are well understood and they have much shorter lifespans, researchers can do many more and better controlled studies to learn about the potential effects of new treatments, which may help humans in the future.

One experiment focused on sclerostin, a naturally-secreted protein that tells the body to dial down the formation of new bone. The mice were injected with an antibody that blocks sclerostin, essentially telling the body to “let up on the brake,” explains Chris Paszty, Amgen’s research lead on the project.

That allowed the rodent bodies to keep regenerating bone tissue, resulting in increased mineral density and improved bone structure and strength.

The results were encouraging: the mice injected with the antibody showed increased bone formation and improved bone structure and bone strength, similar to what was seen in the mice who remained on Earth.

Amgen and partner UCB Pharma are working on a drug using the antibody that “is really going to shake things up,” says Stodieck.

The drug “can substantially reverse losses that have made bone very fragile, as opposed to just preventing it from breaking down further,” he explains. “It has the potential to help a lot of people who have gotten into a very weakened state.”

Another of the molecules tested by Amgen on the space flights is already approved in a drug, helping women with osteoporosis prevent broken bones. Marketed as Prolia, the drug was developed in part using mice data from Amgen’s first space experiment.

And all these results from four-footed critters will give NASA another possible tool to consider for future space voyages, to Mars and beyond. ω.

:Editor: William Bryan:NASA:


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NASA and DLR Select Six Proposals to Study Impacts in Behavioural Health and Performance of Astronauts on Long Duration Space Missions

Crew members for the current simulation missions stand in front of the NASA Human Exploration Research Analog:HERA. HERA is a high-fidelity mission simulation environment operated by NASA’s Human Research Program:HRP at the Johnson Space Center. HERA missions provide the operational setting for important HRP research aimed at reducing the risks to astronauts on future space exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit. HERA 10 “launched” on May 02 for a 30-day mission to the near-Earth asteroid “Geographos.” The four crew members are (left to right): Chris Matty of Houston, Texas; Oscar Mathews of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Ron Franco of Lockport, New York; and Casey Stedman of Olympia, Washington.

|| May 20: 2016 || ά.  NASA's Human Research Program and the German Space Agency:DLR will fund six proposals to investigate possible changes in the behavioral health and performance of astronauts on future deep space exploration missions. The selected proposals aim to address the impact of the spaceflight environment on various aspects of astronaut health, including cognition, sleep loss and team functioning. This work is helping NASA develop the knowledge and countermeasures necessary to ensure astronauts remain healthy as we venture beyond low-Earth orbit to visit an asteroid and eventually the journey to Mars.

All of the selected studies will take place the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. This unique modular three-story habitat provides a high-fidelity research venue for scientists to use in addressing risks and knowledge gaps associated with human health and performance during spaceflight. Several simulated space exploration missions will support the selected experiments and are planned for 2017 in HERA. Each mission will support four crew members during 45 days of confinement.

As a collaboration through the International Space Life Sciences Working Group, NASA and DLR released a joint research solicitation, and projects were selected from 13 proposals received in response to NASA Research Announcement entitled “International Life Sciences Research Announcement.” American and German science and technology experts from academia and government reviewed the proposals. The four selected U.S. proposals are from four institutions in three states and will receive a total of about $1.4 million over a two to three year period.

Among the selectees, Erin Flynn-Evans, Research Psychologist at NASA Ames Research Center, will investigate models to predict fatigue-related performance impairment arising from sleep loss, circadian misalignment and sleep inertia in crew members. Suzanne Bell, Associate Professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology at DePaul University, will develop a model which details how team member attributes and interpersonal perceptions affect relationships in isolated and confined environments. Alexander Stahn, Head of the Exercise and Anthropometry Laboratory at the Charité University in Berlin, will study the effect of isolation and confinement on brain structure and function as well as cognitive performance relevant to astronauts engaged in long duration space exploration missions.

All of the selected projects will enter an analog-definition phase in which NASA and DLR will work with the investigators to enable the research to be conducted in HERA.

The complete list of the six selected American and German proposals, principal investigators and organizations that will utilize the HERA facility is below:

Suzanne Bell: DePaul University, “A US-Russian Collaborative Proposal for Data Collection in HERA: The Relationship between Composition, Interpersonal Relations, and Team Effectiveness in Space Crews”
Kevin Duda: The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, “Real-Time Estimation Of The Effects Of A Simulated Long-Duration Exploration Mission on Flight Performance, Workload, And Situation Awareness”
Erin Flynn-Evans: NASA Ames Research Center, “Evaluation of the Validity, Acceptability and Usability of Bio-Mathematical Models to Predict Fatigue in an Operational Environment”
Uwe Hoffmann, German Sport University, “Cardiorespiratory Kinetics during Exercise in Simulated Stressful Missions”
Alexander Stahn: Charité University Medicine, “Neuroplasticity in HERA - Structural and Functional Changes in Hippocampal Plasticity after Isolation and Its Behavioral Significance for Long Duration Space Exploration Missions”
Gary Strangman: Massachusetts General Hospital, “Quantifying and Predicting Operationally-Relevant Performance in a Long-Duration Spaceflight Analog”

:Editor:Carlyle Webb:NASA: ω.


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Mission Spheroids

Spheroids: Released 26/04/2016 4:14 pm: Copyright ESA


|| April 26: 2016 || The Spheroids experiment is looking at how the cells that line our blood vessels react to living in space, by growing them aboard the International Space Station.

This microscope image of a cell culture was taken at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, days before they were launched on the SpaceX Dragon cargo ferry to the Station 8 April.

“The cells could not have looked more healthy,” comments Jessica Pietsch of the University of Magdeburg, Germany. “Dealing with living cells and launching them on a rocket always brings extra problems – we cannot store them indefinitely and launch delays are frequent.”

The days running up to launch involved working long hours for the team preparing cell cultures and experiment hardware in the laboratory. After thorough sterilisation, the cell cultures were inserted into experiment units.

The experiment includes temperature sensors and pumps to inject a chemical fixative after a period of incubation. Each unit needed to be prepared, checked and stored as well as four more prepared in case of a launch delay.

The SpaceX Dragon launch and docking went perfectly and the units are now floating inside two of ESA’s Kubik incubators. One set of samples will spend a week in microgravity at an ideal temperature to promote growth, while another set will float for two weeks. Both sets will be stored at 4°C with the chemical fixative until their return to Earth for analysis.

“Experiments like these require a lot of coordination and effort but they are worth it as nobody knows how the cells will react to spaceflight.

“Under simulated microgravity on Earth, the cell cultures showed signs of forming small, rudimentary, blood vessel layers – and we hope to reproduce the same effect in space. If we can grow blood vessels in space, imagine the possibilities.”


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Staying Strong: Spaceflight Muscle Loss Study Aims to Benefit Patients on Earth

Gianine Figliozzi Writing

NASA’s Rodent Habitat, shown here with one of the two access doors open, provides long-term housing for rodents aboard the International Space Station. Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart

||April 20: 2016 || “Exercise and eat right” is a common prescription for maintaining muscle and building bone, but more advanced solutions are needed to address serious diseases that lead to loss of muscle function in the general population. The International Space Station is providing researchers a unique opportunity to study muscle loss and to investigate means for muscle preservation.

Rodent Research-3, a study sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), focuses on assessing the ability of a novel compound to prevent skeletal muscle wasting and weakness in mice exposed to long-duration spaceflight. The investigation launched aboard the eighth SpaceX resupply mission to the space station on April 8.

How can spaceflight help researchers better understand terrestrial musculoskeletal diseases and interventions? When we unload, or remove the force of our body weight from the muscles that normally work against gravity to support us, those muscles rapidly atrophy, or waste away and weaken. That’s exactly what happens in microgravity unless countermeasures are applied. The astronauts on the space station, for example, follow rigorous exercise programs that apply forces to their musculoskeletal systems and help them stay strong throughout their missions.

Mice exposed to spaceflight have proved to be valuable research models to understand, target and treat causes of human muscle atrophy.

“This includes modeling serious diseases that involve muscle wasting such as muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cancer cachexia and even aging-related musculoskeletal frailty,” said Rosamund Smith, research fellow at Eli Lilly and Company, and the principal investigator for the Rodent Research-3 mission.

“The ability to expose all muscles of an organism to conditions that induce muscle atrophy is not easily achieved on Earth,” said Smith. “Lilly is excited to have the opportunity to conduct this investigation in space.”

Loss of muscle function, rather than just a decrease in muscle size, is the critical aspect that leads to problems with physical performance in patients suffering from muscle-wasting conditions. Therefore, Eli Lilly and Company has contributed expertise, techniques and equipment for studying muscle function in the mission.

“The Rodent Research-3 study is unique not only in the experimental compound that will be tested, but also because, for the first time, muscle function of the mice will be assessed during spaceflight,” said Janet Beegle, Rodent Research-3 project manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Rodent Research-3 uses NASA’s Rodent Research Hardware System. Developed and built at Ames, this system takes advantage of experience gained from 27 prior flight investigations with rodents using a space shuttle-based system. The space station now supports much longer-duration rodent studies than were previously possible during space shuttle missions, which were typically two weeks in duration. Rodent Research-3 is a six-week long study.

Although the primary research focus of Rodent Research-3 is skeletal muscle, the investigators are studying other organ systems, such as bone, both at the tissue and molecular levels. Their goal is to characterize tissue responses to spaceflight and observe how these changes vary with the length of time spent in microgravity. The findings will advance our understanding of the risks that long-term space exploration poses to astronauts, and can be applied towards the development of countermeasures to protect astronaut health. Additionally, Eli Lilly and Company plans to share Rodent Research-3 experimental samples with the scientific community, further broadening the potential benefits of this research mission.

Results from Rodent Research-3 will be applied to ongoing discovery efforts at Eli Lilly and Company, seeking treatments for serious muscle-wasting diseases and conditions that may potentially help patients afflicted with degenerative diseases to stay strong.

The space station is a blueprint for global cooperation and scientific advancements, a destination for growing a commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit, and a test bed for demonstrating new technologies. The orbiting laboratory is also the major springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

Gianine Figliozzi: Space Biosciences Division: NASA’s Ames Research Center

The Rodent Research-3 mission is sponsored by the International Space Station Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston. Ames is responsible for mission integration and operations. BioServe Space Technologies, University of Colorado, Boulder, is the science integrator for the mission and TechShot Inc. of Greenville, Idaho, developed the Bone Densitometer instrument for the International Space Station National Laboratory that will be used in the Rodent Research-3 study.

( Editor: Kristine Rainey: NASA)


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It's All New DNA:RNA Tool: To Diagnose: To Treat Diseases

This image has been modified from a NASA Image:background and National Institute of General Medical Sciences :DNA
















March 29, 2016: If NASA is going to send astronauts on years-long missions, the agency will need new and better tools to monitor whether the men and women are healthy along the way. One company has developed a tool that could make comprehensive diagnostics at long distances a reality for NASA — and it has big potential to advance medicine on Earth, too.

Currently, Earth-based researchers keep track of things like white blood cell counts and cholesterol and cortisol levels, dubbed “biomarkers,” with tests that use special proteins called antibodies. But the antibodies have a short, three- to six-month shelf life and can be ruined by the high levels of radiation in space, making them ill-suited for such missions.

Martian Imaginary Reality















Image NASA

Research from the 1990s suggested an alternative: single strands of RNA and DNA that can be folded into three-dimensional structures and, like antibodies, bind to specific molecules. These structures, called aptamers, can be stored at ambient temperatures without degrading and are impervious to radiation.

One Hundred Trillion Options

There are, however, drawbacks to using aptamers for diagnostics. For one, making them is a time-consuming, complicated process. Furthermore, until recently aptamers haven’t been as good as antibodies at sticking to target molecules.

“They didn’t bind well enough — they weren’t specific enough for their targets,” explains Mark Shumbera, president of AM Biotechnologies LLC, based in Houston. “Certain chemical modifications needed to be added to their DNA to make them work better.”

A standard aptamer process starts by placing a target molecule into a solution holding one hundred trillion random RNA/DNA sequences. Some sequences will bond well with the target molecule, while others won’t — or will bond only weakly. The successful sequences are then separated and copied through a chain reaction to create another, more refined solution, in a process that is repeated up to 15 times.

This technique, called systemic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment, or SELEX, often requires many chemical modifications to best tailor aptamers to bind to target substances. However, scientists are limited in how many chemical modifications they can make, in part because the chain reaction “doesn’t work very efficiently like that,” says Shumbera. “So typically, people only use one, and maybe two modifications at a time.”

In part through NASA Small Business Innovation Research funding from Johnson Space Center, in 2007 AM Biotechnologies advanced a faster, simplified method for creating aptamers that bond strongly to their target molecule. The company calls these next-generation aptamers X-Aptamers.















Looking for a new way to monitor health markers like white blood cell count and cholesterol, researchers discovered that single strands of DNA and RNA could fold into three-dimensional structures called aptamers that bind to specific molecules, a process made faster and simpler with the AM Biotechnologies kit. Credits: National Institute of General Medical Sciences

The new, faster method uses a proprietary process to synthesize a library of 10 billion RNA/DNA sequences, including both natural and heavily modified sequences, onto microbeads, which are then used to develop aptamers with an affinity for particular molecules, such as the biomarkers NASA is interested in. The bead-based method removes the previous limitations on allowable chemical modifications and simplifies the manufacturing process.

“You can have 50 modifications in a sequence — there is virtually no limit,” Shumbera says. “This method allows for the DNA or RNA to be more chemically diverse, meaning there’s a better chance of creating a molecule with a particularly high affinity and specificity for the target.”
Building the Future of Medicine

The process is now in use by the company, which has also made it commercially available so anyone can make their own aptamers. The kit is so simple that anyone with basic biochemistry lab skills can use it easily, Shumbera says. “We have university customers, our prototype users, who have freshmen undergraduates select X-Aptamers using our kits. The bead-based process simplifies aptamer selection tremendously.”

In addition to helping diagnose diseases, X-Aptamers could also be used to carry and attach a chemotherapy drug to a tumor, sparing other parts of the body from receiving the treatment. “It could help usher in the next big revolution in terms of how we diagnose and treat patients,” Shumbera says.

One aptamer drug, Pegaptanib, has already gotten FDA approval, and Shumbera believes diagnostic applications aren’t far behind. He sees a bright future for aptamers, especially for NASA uses. The agency is working with other companies to create a hardware platform that can perform analysis in space, helping to diagnose and possibly treat ailments while astronauts are thousands or millions of miles from Earth.

To learn more about this NASA spinoff, read the original article Spinoff 2016. For more information on how NASA is bringing its technology down to Earth, visit

( Editor: William Bryan: NASA)


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The Physiology in Space: How Does Gravity Impacts on It and How Does It Respond and Adapt?

NASA astronaut Robert Curbeam during the first of four spacewalks for the Space Shuttle Discovery STS-116 mission,
12 December 2006: Released 14/12/2006 4:55 pm: Image: NASA

March 23, 2016:  Living in space is a wonderful experience but it can take its toll on an astronaut’s body – half of astronauts return with weaker immune systems from the International Space Station. ESA astronaut and medical doctor André Kuipers remembers his six-month mission: “Back on Earth, I felt a hundred years old for a few months.”

Many ESA experiments are looking into why this happens and the most recent – Immuno – reveals some striking changes in astronaut immune systems.

Fight or flight

Stress is a response of the body as it adapts to hostile environments. This broad definition includes stress from speaking in front of an audience, stress from a wound or stress from living in weightlessness in a fragile spacecraft far from home.

The “feelings” are produced by the central nervous system working closely with our immune system. Stress in the central nervous system invariably influences the immune system and vice versa – people with stressful jobs seem more likely to get sick.

The Immuno experiment had a triple-pronged approach: a questionnaire asked astronauts to assess their own levels of stress while stress-related hormones were measured through saliva and urine samples, and blood samples were taken to analyse immune cell reaction to such environmental stress.

From astronauts to newborns

The research has taken five years to complete and involved meticulous planning to use the limited amount of blood that could be taken from the astronauts, stored in the Space Station’s –80°C freezers and returned to Earth.

Through necessity, the researchers developed new ways of analysing small quantities of blood, now being shared with the medical community. “Our methods would interest doctors that care for newborns, who have little blood to give for analysis,” notes Prof. Alexander Choukèr, the lead investigator. His team recently completed a clinical study in adults suffering from inflammation using these tests.


Melfi freezer: –90°C in space: ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti using one of ESA’s space freezers on the International Space Station during her Futura mission in 2015. Samantha commented:  “This is one of our MELFI freezers, where we keep samples like urine, blood or saliva, but also cold bricks that will prevent samples from getting too warm during
the trip home. The drawers are typically kept at around –90°C – gloves are a must!” Released 07/10/2015 12:51 am: Image: Copyright ESA/NASA

Rambo-style vs paralysed immune response

Immuno’s 12 cosmonauts were pretty good at assessing their own stress levels – their questionnaires corresponded with the levels of stress hormones found in samples.

“What was striking and unexpected,” says Prof. Choukèr, “was the ambiguous immune response we saw in the astronauts’ blood – we saw an over-reaction coupled with severe immune suppression in some areas.”

Small quantities were frozen in space and analysed back on Earth, while more samples of fresh blood taken from the cosmonauts back on Earth were contaminated with common illness-causing pathogens such as fungi, bacteria and herpes.

 The researchers found that the immune system reacted heavily to some new threats.

“What would form a mild immune response in blood of a healthy person on Earth seems to cause immune cells in astronauts to go haywire, overreacting to some of the foreign threats.”

The reason is unknown but the implication is that the immune system adapts to the germ-free environment on the Space Station while staying extra alert, possibly due to the unique environmental stress.

Further research is concluding with subjects in similar situations on Earth to rule out the effect of weightlessness. Data are being collected from volunteers in remote research bases in Antarctica and a follow-up study is being prepared that will analyse astronaut blood onsite after being taken in space.


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BEAM for ISS: Will Host a Range of Experiments Seeking Insights on Many Issues Affecting Astronauts During Space-flights and Living in Space

Andrea Dunn Writing

Image: NASA

March 19, 2016: SpaceX plans to launch its Dragon spacecraft into orbit in early April, the company’s eighth mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, CRS-8. The flight will deliver research experiments to the International Space Station that will help investigators test the use of an expandable space habitat in microgravity, assess the impact of antibodies on muscle wasting in a microgravity environment, use microgravity to seek insight into the interactions of particle flows at the nanoscale level and use protein crystal growth in microgravity to help in the design of new drugs to fight disease. Investigations like these demonstrate how the orbiting laboratory helps advance NASA's journey to Mars while making discoveries off the Earth that can benefit life on Earth.

Future space habitats for low-Earth orbit or in deep space should be lightweight and relatively simple to construct. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is an experimental expandable capsule that attaches to the space station. After installation, the BEAM expands to roughly 13-feet-long and 10.5 feet in diameter to provide a large volume, where a crew member can enter. During the two-year test mission, astronauts will enter the module for a few hours three-to-four times a year to retrieve sensor data and conduct assessments of the module’s condition.

Expandable habitats greatly decrease the amount of transport volume at launch for future space missions. These “expandables” take up less room on a rocket, but once set up, provide greatly enhanced space for living and working. They also may protect against solar radiation, and be an additional barrier protecting the crew from space debris and other contaminants; however, testing needs to be done on the design performance of expandables. BEAM provides a test platform for demonstrating the thermal, structural, mechanical durability, radiation protection performance, and long-term leak performance of expandable habitats.

The BEAM will be installed via the Canadarm2, which will remove the module from the capsule and connect it to the rear port of the space station’s Node 3. The module will be expanded at a later date.

Research supplies launching on this mission also will help scientists continue to study spaceflight risks that have been identified, but not solved. For instance, we now know that spaceflight causes a rapid loss of bone and muscle mass especially in the legs and spine, similar to the rate of atrophy seen in people with muscle-wasting diseases or with limited mobility on Earth. The Rodent Research-3-Eli Lilly investigation will assess myostatin inhibition for preventing skeletal muscle atrophy and weakness in mice exposed to long-duration spaceflight. The investigation is sponsored by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and studies molecular and physical changes in the musculoskeletal system that happen in space.

Crew members experience significant decreases in their bone density and muscle mass during spaceflight if they do not get enough exercise during long- duration missions. These effects are most obvious in the body parts that bear weight on the ground, especially the legs, hips and spine. This investigation uses mice as a model for human health to study whether certain drugs might prevent muscle or bone loss while in microgravity. Mice also experience bone and muscle loss in space, and are a potentially valuable model for spaceflight-induced musculoskeletal disuse atrophy. The results could expand scientists’ understanding of muscle atrophy and bone loss in space, by testing an antibody that has been known to prevent muscle wasting in mice on Earth.

Ultimately, drugs tested on the space station could progress to terrestrial human clinical trials, and would be validated for use on future space missions to maintain crew members’ physical health during long-duration missions.

Numerous diseases or physical impairments cause bone and muscle loss, including muscular dystrophy, cancer, spinal cord injury and the aging process. Patients on extended bed rest also experience similar physical changes. Results from this investigation could lead to new treatments for bone- and muscle-wasting diseases on Earth.

While investigations using model organisms like mice could benefit medicine on Earth, medicine, biology, computer science and many other fields benefit from nanotechnology. Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of exceptionally small things and can be used across the fields of medicine, biology, computer science and many others. Fluid dynamics are very different on this small scale, so scientists want to know how microparticles might interact more with surfaces of channels than with each other. This is the goal of the Microchannel Diffusion investigation.

Nanofluidic studies like Microchannel Diffusion are the study of fluids at the nanoscale, or the atomic level, and hold promise for a wide range of technologies. Nanofluidic sensors could measure the air in the space station, or be used to deliver drugs to specific places in the body, among other potential uses. But the laws that govern flow through nanoscale channels are not well understood. This investigation simulates these interactions by studying them at a larger scale, the microscopic level. This is only possible on the orbiting laboratory, where Earth’s gravity is not strong enough to interact with the molecules in a sample, so they behave more like they would at the nanoscale. Knowledge gleaned from the investigation may have implications for drug delivery, particle filtration and future technological applications for space exploration.

The CASIS Protein Crystal Growth 4 (CASIS PCG 4) investigation also has applications in medicine, specifically drug design and development. CASIS PCG 4 comprises two investigations that both leverage the microgravity environment in the growth of protein crystals and focus on structure-based drug design (SBDD). SBDD is an integral component in the drug discovery and development process. Primarily, SBDD relies on the three-dimensional, structural information provided by protein crystallography to inform the design of more potent, effective and selective drugs.

It has been established that growing protein crystals in microgravity can avoid some of the obstacles inherent to protein crystallization on Earth, such as sedimentation. One investigation will study the effect of microgravity on the co-crystallization of a membrane protein with a medically relevant compound in microgravity in order to determine its three-dimensional structure. This will enable scientists to chemically target and inhibit, with “designer” compounds, an important human biological pathway that has been shown to responsible for several types of cancer.

The second investigation, A Co-Crystallization in Microgravity Approach to Structure-based Drug Design, seeks to determine whether crystals formed in microgravity represent an improvement over crystals formed by ground-based methods. Scientists expect the crystals formed in microgravity to diffract to a higher resolution than those developed on Earth, and thereby, provide greater molecular detail. This will permit more confident evaluations of ligand-binding (when a signal-triggering molecule binds to a site on a target protein). The resulting structures could be used to advance the medical-chemistry effort through improved/enhanced SBDD.

Andrea Dunn: International Space Station Program Science Office
NASA’s Johnson Space Center

( Editor: Kristine Rainey:NASA)


P: 200316



The concept of Hearteogenics has, firstly, been explored and elaborated in Munayem Mayenin's Novel, Laranska The Anatomy of Fear. Hearteogenics is proposed to be a the newest branch of Medicine far into the future. The following sonnet from Munayem Mayenin's Larantia Poetry of Anatophysiophilosophicamonimayareginata, Sonnets of Anatomy, Physiology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Histology, Neurology, Surgery, Microbiology, Genetics, Medicine, Pharmacology, Biomedicojurisprudence, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Geology, Seismology, Marine Biology, Botany, Cosmology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmography, Mathematics, Hearteogenics, Psychology, Psychiatry and more. Songs of the Mechanoprincipium and the Cardian Architecture of Life in the Cosmosian Universe, which was published earlier this year, will elaborate a little on the idea of Hearteogenics.


Reading this brief, we hope and imagine, that practitioners of Medicine and the countless numbers of professionals who work within the field of Medicine who are interested in this future specialty of Medicine would feel encouraged and inspired to join us and write about this imaginary subject discipline for and in The Humanion. Please, get involved and create and shape debates on the future of Medicine, about Hearteogenics.  


One day far out in the future I imagine young Hippocrates
And Alexandras and Manishas and Lauras and Munarans
Kwamis and Chengs and Diijianjis and Aakiainens and
Oonas would run around Medical School campuses with

Textbooks of Hearteogenics the discipline that would teach
Them the Seismology the Geophonics the Cosmophycis and
The universomathematics and the cosmological medicine
Of the heart where they would study the heart not as a cardiac

Composition but as a far greater magnitude of complexities
How it works as a biological radio how it is shaped it works
Within gravitational pulls and other forces and their lack and

How it would work out in the cosmos and how it would live
And support us what illness it would suffer if we venture out
Into the outer world of the space onto the other outer spheres

Hearteogenics will include Cardio-seismology, Cardio-geophonics, Cardio-cosmophysics, cardio-universomathematics and Cosmological Medicine for which our Current World Medicine is not equipped; however, these branches of knowledge will become absolutely necessary and an absolute urgency shall need to be put in developing them as the space travel increases and Cosmosian tourism, Cosmosian migration including students and university staff spending research and study times in space installations begins in earnest and the outer world, outside earth, becomes first, The New World, the Americas, and later, The Australasia and finally, enters our geography in the form of Cosmography. I would imagine a fully qualified doctor with at least a five-year post qualification working experience, research and teaching background, as well as a strong background in Mathematics, Physics, Geology, Seismology, Cosmology, Astronomy and Astrophysics, will need to do a five to six years course to master these subjects so to be able to practise as qualified Hearteogenitian. It might sound science fiction but believe you me, the future of life is science fiction coming to life. Do, please, bear in mind, that the terms genes, genetics and geneticist did not exist almost as recently as if it was the other day.


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