Astronauts in International Space Station have commenced a new experiment by growing the beginning of new organs in near-zero gravity. The experiment aims to understand the growth of human tissue space.
According to Independent, NASA's ISS crew attempts to grow human tissue by sending adult human stem cells into space and study the growth in earth's orbit. As per the report, scientists are looking forward to the development of stem cells in the bone, cartilage, and other human body organs. Depending on the results, scientists are hoping that if the experiment proves to be successful, they can use space to grow organs for transplant purposes in the future.
The study involves researchers from the University of Zurich. According to one of the researchers Cara Thiel, they are aiming to grow three-dimensional cultures using "weightlessness as a tool." It is said that the study takes into consideration the lack of gravity on board that can be used to grow three-dimensional samples in place of the mono-layer 2D structures that are created on Earth's environment.
The experiment is being conducted by astronauts onboard the ISS at low Earth orbit at a distance of 400kms. They are using a "mobile mini-laboratory" that was sent into the space using Space-X rocket last week. For the duration of one month, scientists will study the growth of stem cells.
The findings will see the direction the experiment takes. If it turns out to be successful, scientists are expected to enable larger production. The organs created in the space can then be used for future medical experiments, transplants, testing drugs, and more. This is expected to reduce the number of animals used in experiments.
Oliver Ullrich, the leading researcher of the study says that the studies conducted on Earth and space suggest "that in microgravity, 'cells exhibit spatially unrestricted growth and assemble into complex 3D aggregates.'"
These organs are termed as "organoids" which are a smaller and simpler version of human organs that will grow inside test tubes.
The test tubes were launched with stem cells and are expected to return to Earth with organ-like tissue structures inside," added Ullrich, explaining the process of the experiments.
Meanwhile, scientists are surprised to see how differently the cells interact and form on Earth and in space. Nevertheless, they continue to research what and why the results vary.