Did you know that when cultured in microgravity, cells grow as 3D cell aggregates, which better mirror the shape and the environment cells experience in our bodies? Here on Earth, we have gravity, and that means that sedimentation and convection effects play a major role during cell culture. In space, on the other hand, these cells can also arrange themselves in 3D structures such as spheres, that better mirror the way cells organize
themselves in the body. With this better simulation of in vivo-like conditions, we can now better evaluate the causes, state and progress of a large number of diseases. We flew an experiment on-board the International
Space Station in 2016 called SPHEROIDS With SPHEROIDS, we found that indeed some cells had assembled to globular 3D-agglomerates, while others even formed tubular structures similar to the inner lining of blood vessels
in the body, that is something we have never obtained through cell culture in normal gravity. Thanks to the experiment in space, we were able to gain insights into the cells’ metabolic and molecular mechanisms that regulate their 3D growth, differentiation and structural configuration. They also are helpful for the development
of tissue engineering techniques and possibly drugs that mediate vessel development. Endothelial dysfunctions promote several diseases, among which atherosclerosis, hypertension,
diabetes, and thrombosis. Acquiring more knowledge about the changes that space induces in those cells gives us new perspectives into vessel function maintenance and can lead to the development of new therapies to prevent cardiovascular diseases on Earth. Space is successfully contributing to open innovative research opportunities. SPHEROIDS is a concrete example of how progress can be made in: reconstructive surgery and tissue engineering to replace damaged blood vessels in patients. in cardivascular disease treatment, through the development and testing of more
efficient and safer drugs. Now you know that space can help further study cell cultures. Do take advantage of the opportunities and capabilities that are available for your research and development to grow and extend your achievements. Do take the next step… the step to space. We did it already.