Growing significant numbers of human stem cells in a short time could lead to new treatments for stroke and other health issues. Scientists are sending stem cells to the International Space Station to test whether these cells proliferate faster in microgravity without suffering any side effects.
Therapeutic uses require hundreds of millions of stem cells and currently, no efficient way exists to produce such quantities. Previous research suggests that microgravity could help, and the space station is home to the nation’s only national lab in microgravity.
Some types of stem cells grow faster in simulated microgravity, according to Abba Zubair, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Zubair is the principal investigator for the Microgravity Expanded Stem Cells investigation, which is cultivating human stem cells aboard the space station for use in clinical trials back on Earth. He holds a doctor of medicine degree in transfusion medicine and cell therapy and a doctorate of philosophy in tumor immunology.
Human stem cells are cells that have not yet specialized in function and can divide into a spectrum of cell types, rejuvenating and repairing tissue throughout a person’s lifetime. Stem cells in every organ of the body, including skin and bones, maintain those organs and repair tissue by dividing and differentiating into specialized cells.