A team of researchers plans to send cancer cells to space after research in a microgravity environment has shown remarkable effects.
"Many, too many people next to me started getting cancer: it was the main stimulus to start my research," says Joshua Chou, biomedical engineering researcher at the University of Technology in Sidney.
Joshua is looking forward to observing the behavior of cancer cells in complete weightlessness after his research on how to avoid bone damage in space.
“I don't know if we will ever be able to develop a truly unique cure for cancer: we probably have some different diseases in common under the same name. And then each subject reacts differently, " says Cabbage. “But my question has always been the same: is there something that all forms of cancer have in common? It is one of the reasons that led me to place tumor cells in the microgravity device ”.
Cancer in space
The initial results observed by Chou have shown truly radical effects.
“We studied cancer cells from four different types of cancer and four different parts of the body: breast, ovaries, lungs and nose. In conditions of microgravity, 80% to 90% of these cancer cells die in just 24 hours ”.
This is why Joshua Chou wants to send cancer cell samples to ISS, the International Space Station in 2020.
We want to explore the results due to microgravity, or understand if other factors are added to space, such as solar radiation.
“There are major technical difficulties. It is currently difficult to properly store the cells to send them into space, and even recovering them presents great unknowns, " says the researcher.
It is not the first time that cancer cells travel in space, however. He knows something about it Daniel Grimm, professor of gravitational biology and translational regenerative medicine at the University of Magdeburg, Germany.
"This new research is extraordinary, it confirms our findings and extends them to other types of cancer," says the Grimm.
In zero gravity the cells "program" their death
For about 20 years, researchers have tried to understand how cells develop in three-dimensional groups (so-called spheroids) in environments with microgravity. This behavior is more reminiscent of cancer than of cells grown in laboratory culture media.
Spheroids are used in research that aims to identify biomolecules capable of carrying active substances in the body, because they incorporate many different proteins that among other things they induce programmed cell death.
In healthy cells, this "biological suicide" is a mechanism that ensures proper turnover by eliminating old or damaged cells. In tumors, however, this form of "death" ceases: cancer cells survive and continue to proliferate.
The goal of the research and its next spatial developments is to develop drugs capable of stimulating proteins that induce suicide in cancer cells.
Prof. Bizzarri (former ASI President): "Fancy estimates"
The Italian scientific community is perplexed by the research. For the oncologist and former President of the Scientific Technical Council of the Italian Space Agency Prof. Mariano Bizzarri it is truly unique that Doctor Chou, "Despite having no experience and no publication to his credit, he has come to mature ideas (without directly conducting any experiments!) On which many scientists have been studying for thirty years, communicating their results in conferences, publishing in the most accredited journals scientific, in the context of specific Space Biomedicine programs organized by space agencies (NASA and ESA). "
Per Bizzarri, researcher at the Department of Experimental Medicine of theLa Sapienza University of Rome, not just Chou's estimates "They are imaginative", but "The mechanism of action has already been studied in detail" and Chou should "Get well informed before retracing paths towards destinations that science has already reached and crossed for some time."