NASA will send organs-on-chips in Space
NASA | Image source: Google

NASA is planning to send small devices with human cells in a 3D matrix - which is known as Tissue Chips or an organ-on-chips -to the International Space Station (ISS) to check how they react to medicines, stress, and genetic changes. 

The tissue chips made of flexible plastic, have ports and channels so that they can provide nutrients and oxygen to the inner cells.

NASA said, "Tissue Chips in Space" seeks to better understand the role of microgravity on human health and disease and to translate that understanding to better human health on Earth. 

Liz Warren, Associate Program Scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) in America said, "Spaceflight causes many important changes in the human body."

Warren said, "We are expecting that tissue chips in the space will behave like an astronaut's body, experiencing a similar type of rapid changes."

The American Space Agency is planning the analysis in cooperation with National Center for Advanced Translation Sciences (NCATS) and Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) at the National Institutes for Health (NIH). 

Many changes in the human body which are caused by microgravity resemble the beginning and progress of diseases related to ageing on earth, such as bone and muscle loss. But changes related to space occurs very fast.

NASA will send organs-on-chips in Space
Organs on Chips

This means that scientific use of tissue chips in space may be capable of modeling changes that may take months or even years to occur on Earth.

In this first phase of tissue chips in space, there are five investigations. An analysis for ageing the immune system has been planned to launch on the SpaceX CRS-16 flight, by the end of this year.

Other four launches on the SpaceX CRS-17 or later flights includes lung hostage defense, musculoskeletal disease, blood-brain obstruction, and kidney function.

Apart from this, four more projects have been set up for the launch in summer 2020, involves two on engineered heart tissue to recognize cardiovascular health, one on muscle wasting and the other on the gut inflammation.

According to Lucie Low, scientific program manager at the National Center for Advancing Translational Science in America, a tissue chip requires three main properties. She said, "The tissue chip must be 3D because humans are 3D."

"There should be many types of cells in it because one organ is made of various kinds of tissue types. In addition to this, it should have microfluidic channels because in your body every single tissue has vasculature to fetch blood and nutrients to your organs and to remove the problems."

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