Grant award rockets bone research into space
Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) grant sends bone degeneration research to the International Space Station.
Announced at the recent White House Organ Summit, a University of Pittsburgh (PA, USA) researcher has received a research grant to further his work into diseases of the musculoskeletal system in space. Using a 3D microphysiological system, his laboratory will investigate the acceleration effect of stays in space on bone aging and degeneration, on board the International Space Station (ISS).
The grant, from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), was awarded to Rocky S Tuan, director of the Cellular and Molecular Engineering Lab at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPMC) and his research team. The award, accepted on his behalf by Peter Alexander and Riccardo Gottardi, forms part of the 3D Microphysical Systems for Organs-On-Chips Grand Challenge. The project has also been partially funded by the Ri.MED Foundation, a collaboration between Italy's government, the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC.
Tuan notes that being able to study the rapid progression of bone degeneration and aging in space will offer great advantages for development of osteoporosis treatments, adding: "Our research will benefit not only the health of astronauts for long stays in space on the ISS or a future journey to Mars, but also will help people on Earth, providing capabilities for the screening of drug therapies, enhancing personalized medicine, and developing bioreactor technologies for tissue engineering."
Tuan’s lab utilizes nanotechnology and mechanobiological principles, alongside bioreactor and biomaterials technologies such as 3D-printing, to improve treatment of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Commenting on the award, he stated: “We are particularly appreciative of the research award from CASIS as recognition of our work on developing veritable models for skeletal tissues that may be used to understand the mechanisms of disease and to expedite drug screening for degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.”
– Written by Francesca Lake