It’s known to be one of the most hostile environments known to man, but scientists think outer space could provide a clue to treating cancer.
Experiments on two possible treatments were launched on the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday in hopes that zero gravity could reveal what experts on Earth have missed.
The initiative comes as evidence mounts that microgravity conditions can accelerate aging, inflammation and immunodeficiency in human stem cells.
Microgravity accelerates cancer cell regeneration, allowing researchers to understand how the disease takes on stem cell properties that make them resistant to standard therapies — and work on treatments to inhibit this process.
The inhibitors and cells infected with leukemia, breast cancer and colon cancer were launched on Axiom Space’s second private astronaut mission, Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2).
The four-strong crew tests the inhibitors to find out whether they can reverse the regeneration of the diseased cells.
Two potential cancer treatments were launched into space on Sunday. Scientists hope weightlessness will help find new treatments for the disease
Catriona Jamieson, director of the Sanford Stem Cell Institute at the University of California San Diego, said in a statement, “Space is an accelerating environment where we can identify new therapies and new ways to fight cancer faster, maybe even faster. ‘ the pre-cancerous stage.
“We have seen that cancer spreads faster in space; Now we want to know how to block it.’
Jamieson and her team have looked at how to do this Microgravity accelerates aging of stem cells for long periods of time, noting that microgravity can trigger changes in the RNA-editing enzyme ADAR (adenosine deaminase RNA specific).
ADAR introduces changes that alter RNA function and potentially trigger cancer in blood stem cells.
The team found evidence that ADAR works with another enzyme called APOBEC (APOlipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme, Catalytic), which can cause initial mutations in stem cells in the precancerous stage.
This project will build on the team’s research on the previous Axiom mission in 2022, which sent three-dimensional colon cancer organoids into space in a unique nanobioreactor.
This mission revealed that tumor stem cells can triple in size in just 10 days and activated an enzyme called adenosine deaminase associated with RNA1 or ADAR1.
The team sent the inhibitors and cells infected with leukemia, breast cancer and colon cancer into space for testing
This enzyme allows cancer cells to clone themselves and evade the body’s immune response by going dormant, making them resistant to therapies that target dividing cells.
“We want to know if ADAR1 is activated as a stress response to microgravity and if it is activated in other types of cancer,” Jamieson said.
“So this time we’re going to send three types of tumor cells into space, studying not only colon cancer but also leukemia and breast cancer cell organoids.”
The drugs were launched on Axiom Space’s second private astronaut mission, Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), which launched Sunday aboard a SpaceX rocket
Ax-2 launched Sunday night aboard a SpaceX rocket, carrying two Saudis — the country’s first astronauts in decades. Leading the ticket-holding crew was a retired NASA astronaut who now works for Elon Musk’s company amid a new galactic hunt for a billionaire in space
The Ax-2 mission is designed to last 10 days. During this time, the team will Document biological changes in the tumor organoids using a high-resolution fluorescence microscope to monitor cell cycle and ADAR1 activity.
This will help identify biomarkers for early detection and whether intervention with ADAR1 inhibitors prevents malignant regeneration.
“The results will lay the foundation for future cancer stem cell research both on Earth and for space heroes traveling to distant worlds,” the researchers said in the announcement.
According to Jamieson, the results of this experiment will help researchers understand whether ADAR1 is a generalizable stress response that allows cancer cells to clone themselves and whether the enzyme can be turned off with therapeutics such as fedratinib or rebecsinib.
“Metastasis occurs when cancer decides to invade and spread to other parts of the body,” Jamieson said.
“ADAR1 is a powerful trigger for invasion or metastasis, and that’s what we’re trying to eliminate.”
Ax-2 launched Sunday night aboard a SpaceX rocket, carrying two Saudis — the country’s first astronauts in decades.
Leading the ticket-holding crew was a retired NASA astronaut who now works for Elon Musk’s company amid a new galactic hunt for a billionaire in space.
With the support of the Saudi Arabian government, Rayyanah Barnawi, a stem cell researcher, became the first woman from the Kingdom to fly into space.
Also on board was US businessman John Shoffner, who owns a sports car racing team.