COVID-19: Clinical Pathways to Pandemic Relief

By Graeme Gardner, Ph.
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Submitted by davidw on Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:03 PM

Space Biology: A Road to the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

It’s an exciting time in the field of space travel research. In 2019, SpaceX launched its Dragon spacecraft and Boeing launched its CST-100 Starliner. Both are designed to one day carry human passengers to their destination and home again. These launches represent a critical milestone towards NASA’s return to launching American astronauts to space from American soil using American commercial spacecraft. NASA has begun working with Boeing and SpaceX to reach the goal of launching a commercial crew to the International Space Station (ISS) and they are expected to do so by the summer of 2020.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch

NASA astronaut Christina Koch initiates the Veg-PONDS-02 experiment on the International Space Station on April 25, 2019. Credits: NASA/David Saint-Jacques

In a different collaboration, NASA has contracted SpaceX, ULA, and Arianespace to supply essential cargo to the researchers inhabiting the ISS. To date, Space X has successfully launched 18 missions to the ISS, providing vital services to the astronauts and their work. NASA also has a lunar exploration plan that consists of two phases. The first phase involves landing on the moon by 2024 and the second involves establishing a sustained lunar presence by 2028.

Another important and fascinating NASA program is that of Space Biology, in which researchers examine how spaceflight affects living organisms in spacecraft or in ground-based experiments and how we can better prepare for human explorations of Mars and beyond. Researchers in the program examine the process of metabolism, reproduction, and development in a zero gravity environment. The focus of most of the core research involves understanding the mechanisms of cellular and molecular biology as scientists investigate how cellular processes are able to acclimate in a hostile and foreign environment such as space.

NASA is also analyzing how spaceflight alters gene expressions at the levels of RNA, protein, and metabolite production in different cell types and tissue and how the changes affect overall health. Cells respond to changes in their environment through alteration expression of specific genes. Historically, studies have been conducted to understand how cells and cell systems respond to a spaceflight environment. However, with the advent of new technological tools in biological research, scientists are now trying to understand how cells signal to each other in the presence of macrogravity and how cell changes aid adaptation to the space flight environment.

NASA recently selected 15 investigators from 14 prestigious institutions in the United States to collaborate with their Space Biology Program. Microbiology studies will be done to understand the changes in bacteria, fungi, and viruses and how they interact with the crew and other materials at the International Space Station. Plant studies will determine the logistics of space-farming methods that can be used in future exploration. Additionally, animal physiology experiments will be done to understand the cardiovascular changes that occur in space.

One of the most interesting research missions, named MVP Cell-02 (SpaceX-18), is aimed at understanding how organisms evolve to adapt to the harsh space environment. During the experiment, Bacillus subtilis bacteria will be grown in a range of conditions inside the ISS, allowing researchers to understand the adaptation process in microgravity and in a spaceflight environment. Researchers will determine how the bacteria responds to the environment by measuring the growth rate. After the experiment is completed at the ISS, the samples will be frozen and sent back to earth for genetic tests. The genome of the bacteria will be sequenced to determine if any kind of genetic changes occurred during the adaptation process of the bacteria while it was in space.

Much of this new space research is also possible due to the ingenuity of private space companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and Boeing. They are spearheading the efforts to do research in space efficiently and cost effectively. A new space race has developed between private companies rather than the governments of sovereign nations.

All of this research may one day enable humans to start a colony on the moon, Mars, and beyond and truly become an interplanetary species.

Pratish Adhikari, February 27,2020

Submitted by on Wed Feb 26, 2020 5:05 PM

Book Review - Bad Blood - Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou chronicles the rise and fall of multibillion-dollar biotech startup Theranos.
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Submitted by on Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:05 PM

Harnessing the microbiome potential

Spring is underway in parts of the US, and while Florida by no means undergoes the dramatic reappearance of foliage or colorful clumps of daffodils and azaleas, the southern part of the sunshine state experiences its share of spring renewals.
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Submitted by sheenak on Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:05 PM

ORB relocates to Deerfield Beach and celebrates grand opening of new facility with local researchers

After 8 years of operation in Palm Beach Gardens, Ocean Ridge Biosciences (ORB) has recently relocated to a 5,394 sq.
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Submitted by oceanrid on Mon Nov 21, 2016 2:02 PM

Circulating tumor DNA evaluated as an alternative to tissue NGS for non-small cell lung cancer

Tissue biopsies, which are currently the gold standard molecular diagnostic technique for oncologists, are not only painful to cancer patients, but expose an already immune-comprised population to increased rates of nosocomial infections.
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Submitted by sheenak on Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:01 PM

FierceBiotech's 2016 Fierce 15

It's that time of year again when new school routines are established, deciduous trees begin their showy transformation, and FierceBiotech releases its annual list of 15 innovative companies who are primed to make a big splash in the biopharma industry.
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Submitted by sheenak on Fri Sep 23, 2016 1:01 PM

Happy Birthday Charles

February 12th, 1809, Shrewsbury, England (UK).
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Submitted by on Fri Feb 12, 2016 2:02 PM

Palm Beach State Students tour Ocean Ridge Biosciences (2014-12-08)

On Monday November 25th, 2014 Ocean Ridge Biosciences (ORB) hosted a tour of the lab facility for Palm Beach State Biotechnology students.
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Submitted by sheenak on Mon Dec 8, 2014 1:01 PM

Characterization of small non-coding RNAs in human seminal exosomes. (2014-06-30)

Exosomes, extracellular microvesicles of 30-200 nanometers in diameter, have been detected in a wide variety of biological fluids including serum, saliva, urine and lymph.
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Submitted by davidw on Mon Jun 30, 2014 1:01 PM