An experiment from Millie Hughes-Fulford’s San Francisco VA Medical Center’s laboratory launched successfully on January 10 to the International Space Station.
See the video, produced by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).
The study will examine how the effects of microgravity on the immune system are similar to the effects that happen to aging adults on earth.
“If you think of it, we all evolved in a gravity field,” said Dr. Hughes-Fulford, a former astronaut. “When we go into space flight and we have microgravity, we have eliminated one variable. In mathematics if you get rid of a variable you can solve the equation. And we’re able to look at the immune system in a whole new way that has not been possible before.”
Hughes-Fulford will be looking at T-cells and molecules responsible for the earliest immune responses when an infection occurs. The study could identify potential therapeutic targets and drugs that can be introduced into cells of aging adults to fight infections.
In addition to the SFVAMC and CASIS, the study is sponsored by NASA and the National Institutes of Health.