Here on Earth, all experiments are bound by gravitation. Yet, freed from gravity's grip, tumor cells, for example, behave in an entirely different way. As part of the "Thyroid Cancer Cells in Space" project by the University of Magdeburg, smartphone-sized containers carrying poorly differentiated thyroid cancer cells are sent into space. This experiment aims to deliver new insights into thyroid cancer and support in developing new cancer drugs.
In this interview with MEDICA-tradefair.com, Professor Daniela Grimm explains why her research team is sending cancer cells into space, describes what happens to the cells once they are there and offers a glimpse into future zero gravity projects.
Professor Grimm, why are cancer cells sent into space as part of the "Thyroid Cancer" Cell Box Experiment?
Prof. Daniela Grimm: Back in 2000, we already discovered that cancer cells died due to programmed cell death in a simulated microgravity environment. With the help of a random positioning machine, we obtained thirty percent of apoptotic cells back then. As part of the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft program, a German-Chinese collaboration, we then sent thyroid cancer cells into space in 2011. At that time, we were already able to detect that cells form three-dimensional shapes, so-called spheroids in real microgravity in space. These were malignant, poorly differentiated cells that showed signs of a less aggressive phenotype in space. Interestingly enough, both in space and under conditions of simulated zero gravity, the cells secreted certain proteins we didn’t expect to see based on the starting conditions. This marks the third time that we have launched these types of cells into space, this time to the ISS (International Space Station). ...
Read the complete interview with Prof. Daniela Grimm at MEDICA-tradefair.com!