researchers have been busy for many months, preparing various
research projects for the upcoming launch of NASA’s STS-107,
scheduled to launch on Jan. 16, 2003.
(short for Space Transportation System #107) is the first
space flight to feature an Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon,
and will be entirely dedicated to science. The Shuttle Columbia
and its seven crew-members will devote this 16-day mission
to more than 80 different experiments in the space, life,
and physical sciences.
experiments will be part of the CIBX-2 payload, which is hosted
by ITA Inc. (Commercial Instrumentation Technology Associates
IAMI’s experiments are the following:
probiotic powdered milk formula for NASA space flight
IAMI and Materna Ltd.
during space missions suffer from several harmful physiological
A decline in the immune function – exposing the astronauts
to risks of infections.
A disruption of calcium metabolism – with rapid bone loss
(similar to osteoporosis), with increased risk for bone
fractures and kidney stones.
in the intestinal microflora – with a decrease in the friendly
and beneficial bacteria and a rise in the harmful bacteria.
This exposes the astronauts to intestinal infections and
excessive production of gases, which is a major problem
in a space station where astronauts live for months with
minimal options for exchanging the closed air environment.
places a great deal of importance in finding “counter-measures”
to minimize these negative space-flight effects and maintain
the health of the astronauts. Rising evidence supports a beneficial
role for probiotics in minimizing these unwanted side effects
and we believe that consumption of a probiotic-enriched powdered
milk formula by the astronauts before or during space flight
would positively influence and enhance immunity, calcium metabolism,
and bowel microflora and function, among other beneficial
effects. Therefore, with the collaboration of Materna Laboratories
LTD, Israel, we are planning to examine M-107®, a Bifidobacterium
lactis Bb12-enriched probiotic powdered milk, that has been
adapted for consumption by astronauts, who as to date consume
powdered milk and not raw fluid milk due to technical storage
STS-107 we will examine various biologic aspects of Bifidobacterium
lactis before, during and after space flight, with ground-based
controls. We assume the in vitro activity of the probiotic
bacteria will not be significantly altered by space flight,
and that this and future studies will establish these beneficial
bacteria as suitable for consumption and highly beneficial
for astronauts, both before and during space missions. We
hope to show that probiotics could constitute an enormous
advantage for maintaining the well being of astronauts during
future shuttle flights, long duration missions and space station
MMP-1 gene expression in microgravity on STS-107 space flight
IAMI and The Hadassah-Hebrew
University Medical Center, Jerusalem.
previously mentioned, a decreased osteoblast function is thought
to play a role in the process of space flight-induced bone
loss. IAMI has previously studied (aboard STS-80 and STS-95)
osteoblastic cell morphology in microgravity and found that
osteoblasts exposed to microgravity experience many changes
when compared with cells grown on Earth. The osteoblasts exposed
to microgravity grow slowly, become rounded in shape, with
reduced numbers of stress fibers and lower metabolism. These
findings indicate that space flight-induced bone resorption
may be partially attributed to changes in the osteoblasts
proliferation, function, and morphology. Alterations in the
gene expression for growth factors and matrix proteins have
also been observed in osteoblastic cells in vitro under microgravity
conditions. For example, microgravity affects bone cells by
reducing type I collagen and osteocalcin gene expression.
we are planning the next phase of our research. This continuous
study will evaluate the role of MMP-1 enzyme in osteoblast
cells in microgravity. MMP-1 (also known as collagenase-1
or interstitial collagenase-1) is a matrix metalloproteinase
(MMP), a zinc-dependent proteinase capable of degrading all
components of connective tissue at physiological pH. It is
involved in bone matrix degradation and remodeling. An upregulation
of MMP-1 activity has been observed in osteocytes under disuse
conditions. Researchers at The Hadassah-Hebrew University
Medical Center, Jerusalem, have described a significant increase
in both the mRNA levels of MMP-1 and its activity in osteocytes
under hypergravititational force.
purpose of this STS-107 space study is to define the mechanisms
and clarify the role of MMP-1 in the weightlessness-induced
bone loss during spaceflight.
MMP-1’s expression will enable us to gain a better understanding
of osteoblast growth and function in microgravity. The results
obtained in this space study will serve as the basis for future
elucidation of the microgravity signal transduction pathways
and in the long run will facilitate the development of means
to re-normalize cell function in microgravity. In addition,
the insights gained from this study will allow for advances
in understanding and treatment of the diverse disease processes
on Earth where MMP-1 is involved, such as the osteoporosis
of aging, disuse osteoporosis, tumor invasion and metastasis,
cartilage destruction in arthritis, and undesirable tooth-root
resorption in orthodontics.