Scientists sent mouse embryonic cells to the ISS to assess the risks of long-term spaceflight

(ORDO NEWS) —  The effect of cosmic radiation on living cells was previously studied mainly on Earth. To see how accurate these results were, an international team of scientists sent mouse embryonic stem cells to the International Space Station.

They stayed there for four years, and then the researchers compared their chromosomal mutations with the same cells that were irradiated in accelerators on their home planet.

An international team of researchers conducted a lengthy experiment aboard the International Space Station to test the effects of space radiation on mouse embryonic stem cells.

The frozen cells were stored at the station for four years, after which the researchers examined them for chromosomal mutations.

Now the field of space travel is developing rapidly, in the coming years it is planned to carry out manned flights to the Moon and Mars. However, cosmic radiation remains a limiting factor for these missions.

Most studies of the effect of cosmic radiation on living organisms were carried out on Earth. But cosmic radiation consists of many types of particles with different energies, and the real space environment cannot be accurately reproduced on our planet.

To fill this gap, scientists sent about 1,500 test tubes containing mouse embryonic stem cells to the ISS. To some of them, the authors added a radiosensitizer – a substance that increases the sensitivity of cells to the effects of radiation.

Preparation for the experiment took seven years, and it took another five years to analyze the data when the cells returned.

Upon return, the frozen cells were thawed and cultured to analyze their chromosomal mutations. The number of mutations in ordinary wild-type cells did not differ depending on whether they were irradiated on Earth or in space.

Nevertheless, the authors revealed an increase in chromosomal mutations in cells with a radiosensitizer by 1.54 times compared with similar cells that were irradiated with protons at the accelerator.

For future research, scientists are considering using human embryonic stem cells. They also plan to send live mice or other animals into space to analyze their chromosomal mutations. Such experiments in deep space will help to reduce the uncertainties in risk assessments of long-term space missions.

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