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article imageInternational Space Station to test immune cells

By Tim Sandle     Apr 28, 2014 in Science
Scientists are conducting an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) to study whether human cells are tuned into Earth’s gravity. This will test whether deep space missions will affect the body.
For a long time scientists have known about the effect of gravity on muscles, bones and joints; what is not known is how gravity affects the cells that comprise the body’s immune system.
It has been shown that in zero gravity various immune system functions are impaired; these means that the cells no longer capable of protecting the person optimally from infections. What is unclear is how and why.
To show this, scientists plan to examine how the structure and metabolism of immune cells change during a three-day stint in zero gravity. Samples with immune cells are currently on their way up to the International Space Station (ISS) on the so-called "Cellbox Mission," where they will be studied in an experiment. The Dragon capsule carrying the fixed samples is due to splash down in the Pacific Ocean on May 18.
The new research is in keeping with a study recently reported by Digital Journal. Here
scientists were keen to know more about fungal infections and the micro-gravity environment inside a space shuttle, to see how astronauts might react to disease on long-distance space missions (such as mission to Mars).
The latest research was undertaken at University of Zurich's Institute of Anatomy.
More about Iss, International Space Station, Gravity, Immune cells
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