Space Age Stroke Treatment
A Mayo Clinic researcher has received a grant to grow human stem cells in the International Space Station. If successful, these cells could help people recover from stroke and may even lead to the generation of tissues and organs. Stem cells are the master cells that produce all organ and tissue cell types. Acting as a sort of repair system, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells. The human adult stem cells being studied are found in bone marrow. Specically, the experts behind this endeavor are planning to expand the number of stem cells that will induce regeneration of neurons and formation of new blood vessels in people who have had a stroke. On Earth, stem cells grow slowly. Experiments have shown that by minimizing gravity, the cells grow faster. Thus, scientists theorize that by establishing production in space, enough stem cells can be quickly generated to help a signicant number of people. In addition, production in space may reduce the potential for contamination. This is the rst experiment that Mayo Clinic has conducted in space. Plans are to transport the stem cells and necessary equipment to the space station within a year. Mayo Clinic experts are optimistic about the effect this research will have on the eld of regenerative medicine – bringing hope for people with not just stroke but a variety of diseases and conditions.