University of Arizona scientists were awarded space radiation research grant for the study. The Center for Applied Nano Bioscience and Medicine worked on protecting the health of astronauts. The astronauts on long-duration missions, including NASA's Journey to Mars were benefited. The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and another co-principal investigator located at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix were awarded with a grant. The effects of simulated space radiation on the human gastrointestinal tract would be studied with the aid of the grant.
The UA scientists would be providing microfluidic gut microsystem and biodosimetry tools to Wake Forest University scientists, said Frederic Zenhausern. He is the professor at the College of Medicine – Phoenix and director of the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine. Over four years, the lab was provided $ 943,000 grant.
The scientists monitored the effect of solar events and cosmic rays on human in space. They monitored it using the innovative Human-Microbial Cross-Talk human ' gut-on-a-chip .' A total of 10 grants were awarded by NASA's Translational Research Institute at Baylor College of Medicine.
The grants were provided on projects in lymphatic flow, minimally invasive surgical techniques, radiation damage resistance and the effects of microbiome on health during long spaceflights.
Zenhausern said that this is the first TRI initiative from NASA's Human Research Program. It would help us in solving certain challenges of health management for astronauts on extended space exploration missions . Besides, it represents an exciting opportunity to be a part of experts at Wake Forest, NASA and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
UA President Robert C. Robbins said, "The University of Arizona has a longstanding and renowned history of research partnership with NASA, particularly through the Department of Astronomy and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory." They were excited to add the UA Health Sciences to this tradition of collaboration with the space agency.
The human gut-on-a-chip offers a platform for studying a biological model of the human gastrointestinal tract. This model mimics the current conditions and processes that occur within the gut. The cells from individuals respond to certain drugs or environmental exposure, which could be determined by the individuals. This allows formulation of personalized therapies.
The complex interactions between human cells and the microbial ecosystems of the gut could be analyzed. With organ-on-a-chip technology , the effects on health, disease onset, and cognitive performance, mechanism of probiotics, nutritional compounds could be studied.
Translational Research Institute was established by NASA Institute in 2016 to research and develop innovative approaches. This could help reduce the risks to humans on long-term exploration missions.