Gene Transfer in Space

The astronauts' repair of the international space station captured media attention during the space shuttle flight in May. But inside the orbiter, a life science experiment took another small step toward creating a technology that may eventually save thousands of lives around the world. The latest trial in a study ongoing for two years, the experiment involved a gene transfer in soybeans that the researchers hope will lead to edible vaccines, among other products, in the not-too-distant future.

A. J. S. Rayl
Jul 23, 2000

The astronauts' repair of the international space station captured media attention during the space shuttle flight in May. But inside the orbiter, a life science experiment took another small step toward creating a technology that may eventually save thousands of lives around the world. The latest trial in a study ongoing for two years, the experiment involved a gene transfer in soybeans that the researchers hope will lead to edible vaccines, among other products, in the not-too-distant future. The Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics (WCSAR) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Producers' Natural Processing (PNP), a West Lafayette, Ind., biotech company, are directing the study; it is part of the first wave of research projects in NASA's drive to commercialize space.

The payload consisted of 1,000 germinating soybean seeds. In orbit, astronauts aboard the shuttle added a solution that contained an agrobacterium as the vector to deliver...

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