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Outta This World

Mass-producing stem cells ? Experiments being performed 250 miles above us

20 March 2022

Outta This World

Stem cells hold much hope for medicine as they can become a range of different cell types. Researchers in labs across the globe are studying the biology of these specialised cells and testing ways to turn them into cardiac cells to treat heart conditions, for example. All this hype, but one major obstacle stopping such therapies becoming more commonplace is efficiently producing large batches of cells to use. One potential solution to this is travelling 250 miles above us on the International Space Station. This unique lab allows astronauts to perform experiments in microgravity and these near-zero gravity conditions may hold the secret to rapid mass production of stem cells for regenerative medicine. Astronauts are also working on projects to engineer stem cell-derived products like cardiac tissue (pictured) and model diseases which could form a futuristic roadmap of biomanufacturing to bring us new ways to live healthier lives.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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