From: LARRY KLAES (ljk4_at_msn.com)
Date: Thu Mar 27 2008 - 19:09:13 PDT
>From: NASA News <nasanews_at_mail.arc.nasa.gov>
>Subject: NASA Studies Microbes On Space Shuttle Flight
>Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2008 16:08:19 -0700
>Robin Croft March 26, 2008
>NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
>NASA STUDIES MICROBES ON SPACE SHUTTLE FLIGHT
>Moffett Field, Calif. - NASA launched four microbial experiments aboard the
>space shuttle Endeavour on March 11, 2008. NASA Ames Research Center's
>Fundamental Biology Research group is managing this flight project. The
>purpose of sending the microbes into space is to determine how they respond
>to spaceflight and whether their virulence or resistance to drugs is
>The space-borne microbes are contained in special equipment developed by
>Bioserve Inc, of Boulder, Colo. The microorganisms are the focus of the
>work of four Ames-sponsored researchers: Cheryl Nickerson of the Biodesign
>Institute at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.; Barry Pyle at
>Montana State University in Billings, Mont.; and two University of Texas
>Medical Branch researchers David Niesel and Michael McGinnis in
>"Three of the four experiments were flown previously on the space shuttle.
>This flight offers the scientists an opportunity to confirm and build upon
>their previous results," said Kenneth A. Souza, manager of Fundamental
>Biology Research Projects at Ames.
>Nickerson's experiment focuses on Salmonella typhimurium, a leading cause
>of food-borne illness. Nickerson's previous study of Salmonella flew on the
>space shuttle Atlantis in 2006 and showed, for the first time, that
>spaceflight not only altered the bacterial gene expression, but also
>increased the ability of these organisms to cause disease in mice.
>In this experiment, the team will confirm their previous findings and
>determine if the modulation of different mineral concentrations may be used
>to counteract or block the spaceflight-associated increase in the
>disease-causing potential that was seen in Salmonella during Nickerson's
>Niesel's experiment involves Streptococcus pneumonia, an "opportunistic
>bacterium" that's normally harmless, but can be a potent pathogen in
>infants, the elderly and people who have a weaker than normal immune
>system, including astronauts on long duration spaceflights.
>McGinnis is experimenting with the common yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
>This flight study will help answer the question of whether microgravity
>affects antifungal drug resistance in the yeast under actual spaceflight
>Pyle is studying Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common water-borne bacterium
>that has been found in the space shuttle water system, thus posing a
>potential hazard to humans, especially during long-duration spaceflights.
>Information gained from these experiments is intended to provide insight
>into the molecular basis of microbial virulence and determine if microbial
>resistance to an antimicrobial agent is altered by spaceflight. The results
>from these studies may also help scientists develop strategies for the
>prevention and treatment of disease caused by these microbes, both on the
>ground and during spaceflight.
>"This mission enabled us to utilize the International Space Station and the
>space shuttle to increase our fundamental understanding of microbial
>adaptation to the space environment. With the information obtained, we hope
>to reduce the health risks to our crews during future exploration
>missions," said Carl Walz, director of the Applied Capabilities Division at
>NASA Headquarters' Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.
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