Denver: Cancer is deadly, and in several cases incurable. Researchers from Colorado are however, looking for a solution for this and it seems like they have found the key to beating cancer in space.
Understand this: Cancer cells grow in complex 3D structures in one’s body. But when the same are grown in test tubes on Earth, they end up growing in layers and not necessarily in 3D. This makes it difficult for scientists to arrive at a solution as the ones growing in the body are spherical in shape. The space, on the other hand, allows cancer cells to grow 3D structures, making cancer research more accurate. Researchers from the BioServe Space Technologies, University of Colorado are trying to grow lung-cancer cells with gold in space in an effort to manipulate them into becoming magnets and handle them better aboard the ISS.
“Although it’s the same material, just the fact that it has a different shape changes a lot of things,’ says Dr Luis Zea, research associate at BioServe Space Technologies, University of Colorado, Boulder and a co-investigator on the project. “If you don’t have the right shape, then you can’t really conduct the test as accurately as you would like to,” she added.
The project is called ‘Magnetic 3D Cell Culturing Investigation,’ which is an Earth-based technique that uses magnetic forces to handle cell cultures. The researchers will be adding gold atoms to cultures of human lung cancer cells in order to bind the atoms strongly to the membrane.
“This technology may enable us to handle cells in space in a way currently not possible,” said Dr Zea. “We can use it to manipulate cells and make sure they are where we want them. For example, when adding fresh medium or a fixative to a culture, there is a good chance cells will move, which affects the parameters of the experiment. After adding these magnetic particles, we can use magnets to keep the cells in one place,” she added.