Moving The Fight Against Cancer Into Outer Space
Just a few days ago, the culture of cancer cells that was sent up to the International Space Station in April as a part of the multi-national effort to improve treatment for thyroid cancer has returned to Earth. The idea behind sending them there was to test the effect that a micro-gravity environment could have on the growth of the cancerous tumors under inspection.
Dr. Daniela Grimm, a specialist in cancer growth, will now be able to add data from these cultures to a batch of previous research on micro-gravity-affected cancer cells that follow a pattern of slower growth and 3-D shape. By examining the altered gene pattern in the lab back here on Earth, Dr. Grimm, along with other researchers, hopes to further our understanding of these observed effects of micro-gravity on tumors.
Although in its early stages, this research could potentially have a huge impact on the future treatment of cancer. Any new angle taken in cancer research is good news for all of us, because even the smallest elucidation of the most minute microcosms behind the growth of a tumor can unleash a plethora of new directions towards a cure for this terrible disease. According to Grimm, "Spaceflight experiments are of great value for cell biology research in general and for cancer research in particular."
The overall goal of the undertaking is to recognize particular biomarkers that could help scientists develop new and more effective cancer-fighting drugs. Jeff Manber, a man well versed about the undertaking as the CEO of NanoRacks (a key host for the research), has stated that "It may well make critical advances in understanding and even delaying the onset of cancer in the thyroid."
It's pretty cool that outer-space feats are being used in ways that can have an impact on our quality of life down here on Earth. We'll keep you posted on the results once they come out, but in the meantime, let's all keep our fingers crossed for a big break!