Tomorrow at the BIO International Convention, International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory Deputy Chief Scientist Michael Roberts will moderate a session focused on space-based tissue engineering, a key research area in the ISS National Lab portfolio. The panel brings together multiple ISS National Lab partners—including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and in-orbit commercial services provider Space Tango—to discuss how conducting tissue engineering research in space could provide valuable insights to improve human health back on Earth.
Tissue Engineering on the ISS National Lab
The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded five investigations that recently launched to the ISS National Lab as part of the Tissue Chips in Space initiative. This initiative is a multiyear, multiflight program in partnership with the ISS National Lab that aims to advance understanding of human diseases, with the goal of translating findings into potential new treatments to benefit patients on Earth. The ISS National Lab has also partnered with the National Science Foundation on multiple funding opportunities to support innovative tissue engineering research on the space station, with projects scheduled to launch as early as next year.
The BIO International Convention, hosted by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, draws more than 16,000 leaders from around the world in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries and more than 7,000 companies. The ISS National Lab has participated in the annual BIO International Convention since 2012, and this is the fifth year having a featured session highlighting research onboard the space station. The conference serves as a valuable platform to meet with prospective users and discuss the power of leveraging the ISS for groundbreaking research in the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceutical development.
Several ISS National Lab partnerships and investigations have stemmed from engagement at the BIO International Convention. One such project from company 490 BioTech launched to the ISS in April 2018, seeking to evaluate a novel bioluminescent assay tool kit designed to test the safety and effectiveness of cancer therapeutics. In microgravity conditions, cells form into 3D structures that more closely resemble human tissue, enabling drug testing that better mimics cellular responses in the human body. More than half of all candidate drugs fail upon reaching the preclinical or clinical trial testing phases, and a tool kit enabling higher-accuracy drug screening could help to significantly reduce the costs of drug development.
Also stemming from the ISS National Lab’s participation at the BIO International Convention is a partnership with future in-orbit facility operator HNu Photonics. The company is developing the BioChip Space Lab, which will be the first system on the ISS allowing researchers to observe sub-cellular functions in real time. This new ISS National Lab facility, planned for launch later this year, will enable valuable research that has the potential to uncover novel treatments for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and immune system dysfunction.
BIO International Convention Session Information
When: Tuesday, June 4 from 3:15 p.m. ET to 4:15 p.m. ET
Where: BIO International Convention, Philadelphia Convention Center, room 111AB
- Michael Roberts, Deputy Chief Scientist, International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory (moderator)
- Lucie Low, Program Manager, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (part of the National Institutes of Health)
- Michele Grimm, Program Director, National Science Foundation
- Andrei Georgescu, University of Pennsylvania Graduate Medical Student and co-investigator of the ISS National Lab investigation “Lung Host Defense in Microgravity” (funded through the Tissue Chips in Space initiative and launched on SpaceX CRS-17 in May 2019)
- Jana Stoudemire, Commercial Innovation Officer, Space Tango