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Cutting-edge Disease Research Eyed for International Space Station

Credit: NASA

The unique environment of the International Space Station (ISS) could serve as a research lab for pharmaceutical breakthroughs.

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) – manager of the International Space Station’s U.S. National Laboratory – today announced that it is collaborating with global healthcare company Merck to conduct cutting-edge therapeutic research on board the ISS in 2013.

The ISS-based research will focus on therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (MABs).

What are those?

They are engineered proteins designed to bind to targets that cause disease, potentially allowing greater specificity than conventional therapies with fewer side effects.

Scientists involved in this research say this work could ultimately lead to the development of new drugs and therapies to treat human immunological disease, as well as attract additional scientists wishing to conduct advanced research in space.

The final agreement with Merck is dependent on approval by CASIS’ valuation and prioritization process – a requirement for all ISS projects.

If a go-ahead is given, the research will begin in mid-2013.

By Leonard David

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