Salmonella vaccine lift-off

A space biotech company hopes its __Salmonella__ vaccine project will pave the way for other lucrative space biotech projects. The company, SPACEHAB, launched its proof-of-concept experiment as part of the space shuttle Discovery's payload on Saturday (May 31). In linkurl:April,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54609/ I reported that SPACEHAB's CEO Tom Pickens talked up the potential for space biotech at a Congressional hearing on the future of the linkurl:International Space Station.

By | June 2, 2008

A space biotech company hopes its __Salmonella__ vaccine project will pave the way for other lucrative space biotech projects. The company, SPACEHAB, launched its proof-of-concept experiment as part of the space shuttle Discovery's payload on Saturday (May 31). In linkurl:April,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54609/ I reported that SPACEHAB's CEO Tom Pickens talked up the potential for space biotech at a Congressional hearing on the future of the linkurl:International Space Station.;http://science.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1928 SPACEHAB is starting with __Salmonella__ vaccine production, Yahoo News linkurl:reported.;http://science.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1928 Research into a __Salmonella__ vaccine has been hampered partly because the bacterium quickly loses virulence on earth, making it difficult to find an appropriate strain for vaccination. However, a linkurl:recent study;http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=17901201 showed that __Salmonella__ becomes more virulent in space , which could help scientists create a linkurl:potent vaccine strain.;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/home/53627/ So researchers are sending up several potential vaccine strains to test which might be the most effective. If the experiment works, other commercial research would presumably follow -- especially if the space community is able to simplify the logistics of sending up commercial payloads.

Comments

Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

June 2, 2008

I am a fan of space travel and Mars colonization, so I have a builtin pro bias. But I cannot imagine why Salmonella would become more virulent with microgravity as a causative factor. That someone saw an increase in virulence in microgravity may be correct, (I haven't reviewed the paper or its data) but causative factor? One would tend to think this would be seen across species, and we don't see long-term space-hab residents coming back with more virulent normal flora for instance. \n\nBut, more power to them if it helps them develop a vaccine.
Avatar of: Brandt Levitt

Brandt Levitt

Posts: 3

June 3, 2008

I am shocked by the result that Salmonella is more virulent in space. The only explanation that I can think of would revolve around the bugs interaction with its surroundings triggering (or without gravity, failing to trigger) transcription factors. What does everyone suspect the evolutionary basis for this would be? Would external pressure be different between a bacterial cell in solution as opposed to a more concentrated 3d matrix?

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