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CellMax enters the “final frontier”
RANCHO DOMINGUEZ, Calif.—As if it wasn't enough that CellMax bioreactors from Spectrum Laboratories are going into space in early April, the technology is actually being used in two separate science experiments, not just one.
The experiments are part of the next space shuttle flight to the International Space Station, which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to launch on April 5.
So, the bioreactors will find themselves in low earth orbit, with the first experiment set to evaluate embryonic stem cell differentiation in space—with an eye toward providing data about wound healing and tissue regeneration. Principal investigator Dr. Eduardo Almeida of NASA will be using a specially designed polypropylene CellMax bioreactor for that experiment.
Spectrum Laboratories worked closely with Almeida and Honolulu, Hawaii-based Tissue Genesis Inc. to create a custom housing for the bioreactor. Packaging the experiments is a critical issue on the Space Shuttle, Spectrum Labs reports, and the new housing needed to take up as little space as possible. Spectrum engineers reportedly designed the specs and built the new housing in less than 10 days in order to meet the very tight experiment development schedule.
The second experiment, using a stock bioreactor, will investigate bacterial infection of mammalian epithelial cells in space. This experiment, developed by Principal investigator Dr. Cheryl Nickerson of Arizona State University, is aimed at exploring how human cells respond to bacterial infections in space and if the normal processes of infection seen on Earth occur in the space environment.
This second experiment follows up and expands on work done in past space-based experiments, as well as in simulated microgravity conditions on Earth. The spaceflight microgravity environment, however, is said to be much better than ground-based simulations to determine the effects of spaceflight on living systems. The testing will use a polyethylene CellMax bioreactor to cultivate the infections.
"We at Spectrum Labs are very proud to participate in these two experiments that promise to help us understand not only how cells function in microgravity, but how this information could be use for the discovery of novel therapeutics," says Parag Patel, product manager for Spectrum's CellMax bioreactors.
Prep work for the experiments will be completed the day before the launch. The experiments will be then loaded on the space shuttle Discovery for its 13-day mission into space.
Since 1970, Spectrum Laboratories has developed and manufactured innovative products for bioseparation and cell line management. The company's products are used for filtration, isolation, purification and concentration of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, food, beverages and industrial fluids.
Commander Alan Poindexter is set to lead the STS-131 shuttle mission to the space station. Joining Poindexter will be pilot Jim Dutton and mission specialists Rick Mastracchio, Clay Anderson, Dorothy Metcalf- Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson, plus mission specialist Naoko Yamazaki, an astronaut in the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who will be making her first-ever journey into space.
Shuttle Discovery's mission includes three planned spacewalks, with work to include replacing an ammonia tank assembly at the space station, retrieving a Japanese experiment from the station's exterior, and switching out a rate gyro assembly on the S0 segment of the station's truss structure.