Scientists are growing stem cells in space in an effort to discover new ways to produce large batches of certain stem cells to treat a variety of diseases.
Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles are behind the program that delivered stem cells to the International Space Station (ISS) over the weekend on a supply trip delivery.
“By pushing the boundaries like this, it’s knowledge and it’s science and it’s learning,” said Clive Svendsen, executive director of Cedars-Sinai’s Regenerative Medicine Institute.
The project is the seventh of its type that has included stem cells sent to space from experiments by the U.S., China, and Italy. The efforts are attempting to overcome the difficulty of growing large quantities of stem cells under the Earth’s gravity by conducting efforts beyond the planet’s atmosphere.
“In zero G, there’s no force on the cells, so they can just grow in a different way,” Svendsen said.
The particular cells used in the Cedars-Sinai experiment are pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These materials are utilized by scientists for a variety of treatments, ranging from skin to blood cells.
“Human iPSCs are ideal for creating and testing potential treatments that can be tailored to an individual,” ISS National Laboratory explains regarding the mission. “Microgravity may overcome some of the problems involved in the processes by which stem cells divide and become different types of cells, which could advance the manufacturing of iPSCs for the treatment of various diseases on Earth.”