The tests will be conducted by the first Australian space station mission.
“We certainly do not count on finding a definitive cure but we can work in parallel with existing therapies and improve their effectiveness”.
The lack of gravity kills cancer cells. 24 hours of microgravity are enough to make them die between 80 and 90%. This was discovered by a team of Australian researchers who will now use space missions as a laboratory to understand the mechanisms that induce the death of these cells, to study new treatments or improve the effectiveness of those already existing. In fact, Joshua Chou of Sydney University of Technology and his assistant Anthony Kirollos will sort out several types of cancer cells, among the most difficult to suppress, in a small device that will be sent into orbit at the International Space Station, in the first Australian space research mission.
The project took shape when Chou and his collaborators observed that the microgravity simulator of their laboratory, which reproduces the space environment by reducing gravity, had a powerful effect on these cells. “We conducted tests on four different types of cancer, ovaries, breasts, nose, and lungs, and found that in 24 hours of microgravity, 80-90% of the cells died without any pharmaceutical treatment,” he said. Chou explained to the ABC national radio. The hypothesis is that reduced gravity kills tumor cells because it prevents them from communicating.
“In space, the cells of the body begin to undergo the condition called mechanical uploading,” explains the scholar.
“The absence of gravity has an effect on how cells move and act and compromises their ability to survive”.
“We are not sure of finding a definitive cure – he concluded – but it will be possible to work in parallel with existing therapies and improve their effectiveness”.