The International Space Station is home to many discoveries. It has helped scientists in decoding many space mysteries. The revolving laboratory is now set for another milestone. Researchers have decided to culture living heart cells on the ISS. They have explored new ways to culture cells in zero gravity. Researchers said that cells can be transported to the ISS via a process called cryopreservation. It makes it much easier to transport cells. The process involves storing living cells at minus 80 degrees Celsius. This method provides more flexibility in research schedules. Scientists said that cryopreservation can contribute to other biological studies too. This could unravel many space and Earth mysteries.
The study will help in understanding the increased growth rate of cardiomyocyte cells in a microgravity condition. These precursor cells are crucial for multiple purposes. These calls have the potential to be used in drug development and disease modeling. The cultured cells can also replenish damaged or lost cells due to heart-related diseases. Several studies in past said suggested that culturing such cells can increase the efficiency of production in microgravity. But culture living heart cells on the ISS are unique. Researchers said that this is something that has never been done before. They said that the MVP Cell-03 experiment has some challenges. The experiment needs to be conducted in a specific timeframe.
Living heart cells must be at the right stage when the experiment is done. Any decision regarding the change in flight and availability crew can delay the research and outcomes. Researchers said that they will prepare batches of cells that will be transported to the ISS. They will also ready batches of backup cells in case of adversity. Results have shown that the cryopreservation process does affect the cells. The process protects these cells from excess gravity that the spacecraft experiences at the time of launch. Researchers noted that they have made any modifications to improve the cryopreservation process. Previously, the cryopreserved cells had in March 2020 flew to ISS. Astronauts successfully cultured them. They generated beating heart cells and returned after three weeks.