During spaceflight, astronauts suffer not only significant loss of bone density and muscle mass in the absence of gravity, but also endure exposure to cosmic radiation and chronic stress – which result in increased DNA damage compared to the way life unfolds on Earth.
The overarching goal of the CADW- ‘Interrogation of the Stress and DNA Damage Response During Spaceflight’ investigation is to determine whether increased DNA damage induced by the harsher environment of low Earth orbit spaceflight (microgravity, radiation, stress) is regulated by the stimulation of a certain key protein-coding gene called β-arrestin1.
While on Earth, mammalian cells are continuously bombarded by DNA damaging factors which threaten genomic integrity and cell viability, spaceflight deals with significantly harsher conditions. Such threats that can be turned into opportunities for research and gaining a deeper understanding of life.
β-arrestin1 has been found to play significant roles in chronic stress-induced DNA damage. Such DNA damage can have profound consequences on human health and is associated with the functional changes that accompany several human diseases, including cancer.
During the RAKIA mission on Axiom-1, CADW Therapeutics will examine stress and DNA damage response during spaceflight, whether the beta-arrestin1 signaling pathway is activated by microgravity and low orbit space flight, including mimicking cosmic radiation and stress, to see if genomic damage during space travel is connected to the silencing of this very specific gene (beta-arrestin1). Thus, understanding how all these effects can be mitigated, and one day reversed, will pave the way for future work on preventive measures, with implications both on life on Earth as well as future missions beyond LEO.
In collaboration with SpacePharma, the CADW- ‘Interrogation of the Stress and DNA Damage Response During Spaceflight’ investigation utilizes an automated ‘laboratory’ platform designed by SpacePharma, the ICE Cubes – SPIC2 providing temperature control system, combined with CO2-independent media, enabling ‘incubator free’ cell culture conditions. Accompanied with relevant software for operating different components, such as fluid handling, optics, electronic, and software systems, together with microfluidic chips, this system allows cell-based experiments to be performed inside the ICE Cubes Facility, onboard the ISS Columbus module of ESA.