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ISS RESEARCH TO STUDY TREATMENTS FOR LIVER AILMENTS



SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR Z. ROWE - N1ORC

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington           
 Jan. 17, 2002 
(Phone: 202/358-1726) 

Cynthia Georgeson
StelSys LLC, Baltimore
(Phone: 262/260-4728) 

RELEASE: 02-11

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION RESEARCH  TO STUDY TREATMENTS FOR LIVER
AILMENTS 

     NASA has signed an agreement with StelSys LLC, 
Baltimore, to fly experiments on the International Space 
Station that will compare human liver-cell function in space 
with that on Earth. This research could aid in StelSys' 
development of treatment for people in need of liver 
transplants. 

The research primarily will evaluate how human liver cells 
process medicine in space and will add to further ground-
based research. Space Shuttle Discovery will deliver the 
research equipment on mission STS- 111 scheduled for launch 
in May 2002.  

"This will be an excellent start for commercial use of space 
technology," said Dr. Neal Pellis, Chief, Biological Systems 
Office, at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "We hope 
this is the first of many." 
	
The agreement to fly experiments in space comes just one year 
after a groundbreaking licensing agreement between NASA and 
StelSys intended to explore a new frontier in biotechnology. 
The agreement focuses on the development of commercial 
medical products and services using NASA's Bioreactor 
technology in four areas, including development of a liver-
assist device and a method for producing liver-cell 
biomolecules and metabolites. 

"Space is the gold-standard environment for this cutting-edge 
cell research. Only in space, a true microgravity 
environment, will we be able to isolate and study each of the 
individual factors impacting cell function.  This will allow 
us to refine and then optimize ground-based Bioreactor 
research," said Dr. Fisk Johnson, president of Wisconsin-
based Fisk Ventures and co-founder of StelSys. 

Utilizing the Bioreactor technology over the past year, 
StelSys scientists have discovered a unique procedure to 
accomplish long-term culturing of liver cells, which allows 
the cells to maintain liver-specific functions for at least a 
week, compared to only a day using traditional methods. In 
addition, they have developed a prototype of a novel 
"bioartificial" liver. 

NASA invented the rotating Bioreactor as a way to study the 
impact of microgravity on cellular growth on Earth and in 
space. Traditional cell-growth research often produces 
single-cell, pancake-like cultures which quickly lose normal 
cell function. The Bioreactor works by gently spinning a 
fluid medium filled with cells. The spinning motion 
neutralizes most of gravity's effects, creating a near-
weightless environment that allows cells to grow more freely, 
in a three-dimensional manner. 

"StelSys is committed to research with real-world benefit to 
people. Our recent discoveries could lead to better, earlier 
drug-candidate screening, which would speed up drug 
development by pharmaceutical companies, and importantly, to 
a longer life for the 25,000 people every year waiting for a 
life-saving liver transplant," said Dr. Paul Silber, 
president of StelSys. 
  
This research is being conducted under an agreement with 
NASA's Office of Biological and Physical Research, 
Washington. The office is responsible for basic and applied 
research using the low-gravity environment of space. 

StelSys LLC is a biotechnology research company formed to 
develop and commercialize real-world applications of the NASA 
Bioreactor technology. The company maintains a core team of 
researchers with expertise in cell biology and chemical 
engineering. 

Additional information concerning this research is available 
via the Internet at: 

http://spaceresearch.nasa.gov/

                            -end-




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