Stobhan Mallany, PhD, Director of Translational Biology at Sanford Burnham Prebys (SBP) www.sbpdiscovery.org and founder of the spin-off company Micro-gRx http://micro-grx.com has been awarded $435,000 to study atrophy in muscle cells in microgravity on the International Space Station.
The project was awarded to Micro-gRx by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) www.iss-casis.org, operating under a cooperative agreement with NASA.
In microgravity, conditions accelerate changes in cell growth similar to what occurs in the aging and disease process of tissues. Using real-time analysis, Mallany will be able to rapidly study cells for potential new therapeutic approaches to muscle degeneration associated with aging, injury, or illness.
Disease modeling using human cells has become a focal point in medical research because it accelerates disease-specific drug discovery and may result in providing novel therapeutics to patients in need. It is also anticipated that there will be significant funding opportunities in this area in the years to come.
Micro-gRx will partner with Space Tango www.spacetango.com, a Kentucky-based microgravity research company that will manage the flights for the cell samples to the ISS National Lab. Space Pharma www.space4up.com an Israeli-based company, will supply the lab-on-a-chip or miniaturized lab to culture cells and measure cell changes over time.
Micro-gRx was established in 2015 with seed funding from Space Florida www.spaceflorida.gov. According to Mallany, “The region’s space commercialization opportunities are far-reaching and there are significant happenings around medical research in space as well.”