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"Study on the Effect of Space Environment to Embryonic Stem Cells to Their Development (Stem Cells)" has started

Last Updated: April 11, 2013

"Study on the Effect of Space Environment to Embryonic Stem Cells to Their Development (Stem Cells)"* has started on board the Japanese Experiment Module, Kibo.

* Principal Investigator (PI): Takashi Morita, Professor, Osaka City University

Stem Cells experiment studies the effects of space environment to mammalian (mouse) cells using embryonic stem cells (ES cells). For this experiment, cryopreserved ES cells have been launched and will be preserved for a long-term span.

Later, they will be returned to Earth, and the effects on the cells including DNA breaks, chromosomal defects, and the cell development will be studied.

This experiment aims to obtain basic data to understand the effects of long-term stay in space for humans and to clarify the function of DNA repair genes.

Sample boxes containing the ES cells were launched at 0:10 a.m. on March 2, 2013, aboard the Dragon spacecraft (SpaceX-2). Then at 11:52 p.m. on March 4, NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn stored it in one of the frozen drawers of the Minus Eighty degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) on the pressurized module (PM) of Kibo.

A total five sets of sample boxes have flown to the ISS. To examine the changes over time, the samples will be returned one by one, for five times in three years.

The first sample will return to the ground aboard the next Dragon spacecraft (SpaceX-3) scheduled during 2013. Using the returned ES cells, effects on the cells including the breaks of double stranded DNA, chromosomal defects, and the cell development will be examined. In addition, the ES cells will be injected into mouse cell embryos to develop and grow to adult mice for analyzing the effects of space radiation on the mammalian cells.

This theme was selected as one of the utilization themes for the second phase of the Kibo PM (Japanese Fiscal Year 2009-2010).

【Remarks from the PI, Professor Morita】
Our space experiment has finally started after seven years of ground experiment and the preparation for this launch. Seeing the launch, I realized that the samples had flown to space and was full of emotion. This experiment will last for more than three years. Our mission is to examine the effects of space radiation on mammals deliberately and accurately.

*All times are Japan Standard Time (JST)

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