Astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) are conducting a blood cell experiment which may improve treatments for cancer. In a new video published by the US space agency as part of the AngieX Cancer Therapy study, the team led by NASA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor were shown examining endothelial cells that come from blood vessels.
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In the video, Aunon-Chancellor said the flat endothelial containers feel "all nice and warm and comfortable," because they are kept at body temperature aboard the space lab.
Several cartridge-shaped containers on board the International Space Station currently host the cells as they undergo varying amounts of chemotherapy exposure.
The team is conducting blood experiments in space because sometimes, cells act differently in the weightless environment of orbiting spacecraft, called microgravity. These orbiting cells perform more like they normally do inside the body, cancer researchers can more accurately test the cells for chemotherapy responses.
“Endothelial cells housed within culture dishes in microgravity seem to perform as if they were in blood vessels within a living organism (in vivo) on Earth”, stated NASA.
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"The study may facilitate a cost-effective method that does not require animal testing, which may help develop safer and more-effective vascular-targeted drugs," the project page on NASA reads.
(With inputs from agencies)