Right Turn: Stem cells in space

Author: Stacey Johnson, 11/13/15

Are you a wannabe astronaut? If you haven’t yet heard the news, NASA is hiring. Think you got the right stuff?

The boys from One Direction do and you’ll know this if you have viewed their “NASA” video (over 185 million have clicked!).

 

 

Now, apart from enjoying a catchy tune and some eye candy (you’re welcome), you might be wondering if the title above refers to the previously reported stem cells on Harry Styles’ face. (Apparently he gets “stem cell” facials.) That would be incorrect.

Despite the One Direction detour, I am going someplace with this.

Earlier this summer, adult stem cells, provided by the Mayo Clinic, rocketed into space in a protype RED-4U capsule designed by Terminal Velocity Aerospace (TVA) as part of a test before scientists study how stem cells grow in space on the International Space Station. To learn more about this from Dr. Abba Zubair, medical and scientific director of the Cell Therapy Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic (Florida campus), please click here.

TVA CEO Dominic DePasquale told Space.com “there is evidence, from prior testing, that they will grow up to 10 times faster in space and have higher purity and other advantages as well.”

Over at Paul Knoepfler’s stem cell blog, The Niche, this was the reaction to that statement:

“Ten times faster? I don’t think a ten-fold increase in adult stem cell growth is probably even possible unless the cells were unusually slow to grow in the first place. For instance, if the stem cells doubled ever two days or 48 hours normally, a ten-fold boost in growth would mean doubling every 4.8 hours. I don’t see how that’s possible given what we know about cell biology and division. Even cancer cells in general do not grow that fast.”

Nevertheless, Dr. Knoepfler was excited by the possibilities.

A flight date has yet to be announced.

If you don’t want stem cells to have all the fun, here’s what NASA requires:

Astronaut candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, science or math, with some relevant professional experience or at least 1,000 “pilot-in-command time” in jet aircraft. You must be able to pass the NASA Astronaut physical. You can find more specifics here. Oh, you also need to be an American citizen or at least have dual-citizenship. Here’s where you can apply. Good luck!

Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at)ccrm.ca. We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.

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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.
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