CellMax enters the “final frontier”

Spectrum Labs’ CellMax bioreactors to head into space on upcoming shuttle launch

Jeffrey Bouley
RANCHO DOMINGUEZ, Calif.—As if it wasn't enoughthat CellMax bioreactors from Spectrum Laboratories are going into space inearly April, the technology is actually being used in two separate scienceexperiments, not just one.
 
The experiments are part of the next space shuttleflight to the International Space Station, which the National Aeronautics andSpace Administration (NASA) plans to launch on April 5.  

So, the bioreactors will find themselves in lowearth orbit, with the first experiment set to evaluate embryonic stem celldifferentiation in space—with an eye toward providing data about wound healingand tissue regeneration. Principal investigator Dr. Eduardo Almeida of NASAwill be using a specially designed polypropylene CellMax bioreactor for thatexperiment.
 
 
Spectrum Laboratories worked closely with Almeidaand Honolulu, Hawaii-based Tissue Genesis Inc. to create a custom housing forthe bioreactor. Packaging the experiments is a critical issue on the SpaceShuttle, Spectrum Labs reports, and the new housing needed to take up as littlespace as possible. Spectrum engineers reportedly designed the specs and builtthe new housing in less than 10 days in order to meet the very tight experimentdevelopment schedule.
 
 
The second experiment, using a stock bioreactor,will investigate bacterial infection of mammalian epithelial cells in space.This experiment, developed by Principal investigator Dr. Cheryl Nickerson ofArizona State University, is aimed at exploring how human cells respond tobacterial infections in space and if the normal processes of infection seen onEarth occur in the space environment.
 
 
This second experiment follows up and expands onwork done in past space-based experiments, as well as in simulated microgravityconditions on Earth. The spaceflight microgravity environment, however, is saidto be much better than ground-based simulations to determine the effects ofspaceflight on living systems. The testing will use a polyethylene CellMaxbioreactor to cultivate the infections.
 
 
"We atSpectrum Labs are very proud to participate in these two experiments thatpromise to help us understand not only how cells function in microgravity, buthow this information could be use for the discovery of novel therapeutics," saysParag Patel, product manager for Spectrum's CellMax bioreactors.
 
 
Prep work for the experiments will be completedthe day before the launch. The experiments will be then loaded on the space shuttleDiscovery for its 13-day mission into space.
 
Since 1970, Spectrum Laboratories has developedand manufactured innovative products for bioseparation and cell linemanagement. The company's products are used for filtration, isolation,purification and concentration of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, food, beveragesand industrial fluids.
 
 
Commander Alan Poindexter is set to lead theSTS-131 shuttle mission to the space station. Joining Poindexter will be pilotJim Dutton and mission specialists Rick Mastracchio, Clay Anderson, DorothyMetcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson, plus mission specialist NaokoYamazaki, an astronaut in the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who will bemaking her first-ever journey into space.
 
 
Shuttle Discovery's mission includes three plannedspacewalks, with work to include replacing an ammonia tank assembly at thespace station, retrieving a Japanese experiment from the station's exterior,and switching out a rate gyro assembly on the S0 segment of the station's trussstructure.
  
 
  
  
 
  
  
 
 

Jeffrey Bouley

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