NASA conducts research while orbiting more than 200 miles above the Earth to learn how humans and materials behave outside of a gravity-influenced world. Research Summary: Mouse Immunology is a fundamental space biology experiment that will enhance understanding of space flight effects on immune function. Mice housed in Animal Enclosure Modules will experience microgravity on the International Space Station. The crew will make daily health checks and replenish the water supply as needed.
Spaceflight immunosuppression may be a significant obstacle to long-term human space travel. Using a mouse experimental model, this set of experiments tests if initial specific activation of T cells is intact and if memory T cell function is maintained during spaceflight. Deciphering if memory T cell responses are effective during spaceflight will determine if pre-flight vaccinations could be useful countermeasures to protect against infections in long duration space flight.
This investigation is a 13 day investigation on STS-131 in April 2010. Eight additional U.S. peer-reviewed experiments and two internal studies complement this research.
Importance on Earth: Memory T cells are the mediators of immune protection after vaccinations. This experiment may also provide knowledge to scientists that would help them to better manipulate the body's defenses and develop medical treatments for various infectious diseases on Earth.
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