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Bacteria sent to space come back more infectious

By RobotGod     Sep 24, 2007 in Science
Microbes that cause salmonella came back from spaceflight even more virulent and dangerous in an experiment aboard the US space shuttle Atlantis, according to a study published on Monday.
breitbart reports that the experiment by microbiologists at Arizona State University sent tubes with salmonella bacteria on a shuttle flight in September 2006 to measure how space flight might affect disease-causing microbes.
The salmonella sample travelled millions of kilometers in orbit changed their pattern of certain genes compared to identical bacteria that were back on Earth.
After the shuttle flight, studies using mice showed the salmonella bacteria aboard the shuttle were about three times as likely to cause disease when they were compared with the control bacteria on the ground.
After three weeks, 40 percent of the mice fed the salmonella from Earth were still alive. 10 percent of those given the bacteria from space survived.
The professors who carried out the research, said the results of could help advance understanding of salmonella and other infectious diseases, both in space and on Earth. Of course that could possibly pave the way for development of new treatments.
That is because Salmonella and other related bacterial pathogens are a leading cause of food-borne illness and infectious disease. No vaccine exists for salmonella and over the years it has become increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment.
They think they have revealed the key role of a regulatory protein, Hfq, which may be responsible for the enhanced virulence of the microbes after space flight. They are hoping that this could shed light on how cells act on Earth.
Very fascinating stuff. Scientific knowledge continues to grow at an amazing rate. Will we even recognize the field in a few years?
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