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Vaccine Research Heads Into Space

by Marc S. Reisch
August 31, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 35

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Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA
Space shuttle Discovery carries microbes for experimentation.
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Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA
Space shuttle Discovery carries microbes for experimentation.

Hitching a ride on the shuttle Discovery, set to launch at press time for the International Space Station, is a scientific payload that will be used to search for therapeutic agents and vaccine candidates elicited under microgravity space conditions. Such conditions influence unique interactions in biological systems, says biotechnology firm Astrogenetix. The firm will send up infectious microbes Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella in a vaccine-processing platform that will later be returned to Earth, searched for biomarkers, and further analyzed in terrestrial labs in hopes of discovering drug candidates. Astrogenetix has conducted research on previous space missions.

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