Cape Canaveral, FL (KROC-AM News) - A Mayo Clinic experiment was included in the payload for Sunday’s historic SpaceX launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A Mayo Clinic statement says the experiment involved samples of adult stem cells from a research laboratory at Mayo’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida. Mayo Clinic Dr. Abba Zubair hopes to find out how well the stem cells hold up in space as part of his specialty involving cellular treatments for disease and regenerative medicine. By sending the samples into space, Dr. Zubair is seeking to learn if stem cells can be mass produced more quickly in microgravity and used to treat strokes.

“At Mayo Clinic, research drives everything we do for patients,” says Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., vice president, Mayo Clinic, and CEO of Mayo Clinic in Florida. “This space cargo carries important material for research that could hold the key for developing future treatments for stroke ─ a debilitating health issue. Research such as this accelerates scientific discoveries into breakthrough therapies and critical advances in patient care.”


Mayo Clinic says studies in simulators on Earth have shown adult stem cells reproduce quickly and reliably in micro gravity, leading to speculation among some researchers that the conditions may be similar to the floating environment of developing cells in the body. Dr. Zubair will be gathering real-time information about the cells as astronauts on the International Space State conduct experiments measuring molecular changes.

“We’ll be looking to see if there are genes activated in microgravity and analyzing the stages of the cell cycle,” he says. “We may discover proteins or compounds that are produced that we can synthesize on Earth to encourage stem cell growth without having to go to microgravity.”

Sunday’s resupply mission was SpaceX’s first launch from the historic LC-39A launch pad used for the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. It also marked the first time the reusable first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has landed at the new SpaceX Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral.

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