Space Shuttle carries vaccine processing platform to International
1 September 2009
The Space Shuttle Discovery STS-128 that launched last Saturday (29
August) carried a scientific payload for the International Space Station
from Austin-based Astrogenetix, the first commercial space company to
use microgravity to discover the foundation of new medicines.
The payload, one of many for conducting scientific experiments, will
enable research to be conducted on Staphylococcus aureus and
Salmonella microbes in microgravity in search of a potential
target for a therapeutic agent or vaccine candidate. These bacteria
cause hundreds of thousands of medically diagnosed infections every year
around the world.
Image depicting space shuttle Discovery’s final
with the International Space Station.
Astrogenetix has worked closely with NASA to fully utilize the
International Space Station. The company has flown on five shuttle
missions performing drug development in microgravity since its formation
in early 2008, has been designated a National Lab Pathfinder and is
slated to fly on all remaining shuttle missions.
“Through our unique Vaccine Processing Platform, we hope to discover
new medicines in space that will benefit lives on Earth,” said John
Porter, chief executive officer of Astrogenetix, and senior vice
president and chief financial officer of parent company Astrotech
When operated in microgravity, the Astrogenetix Vaccine Processing
Platform dramatically reduces time-to-vaccine discovery because
microgravity elicits unique interactions in biological systems that do
not occur in terrestrial laboratories. Returning samples from this
flight will be examined and added to Astrogenetix’s growing database of
biomarker research. Post-flight analysis will immediately ensue at
terrestrial labs in search of specific drug candidates gleaned from the
“We’re really on the forefront of something big here,” said Thomas B.
Pickens III, Astrotech’s chief executive officer and chairman of the
board. “We have an acclaimed space science team, combined with the
world’s most advanced technology, to lead the field of medical discovery
into the next frontier.”
Astrogenetix, Inc. was formed by Astrotech Corp. to commercialize
biotechnology products processed in the unique environment of
microgravity. Over the last 25 years, Astrotech Corp. has supported the
launch of 23 shuttle missions and more than 260 spacecraft, built space
hardware and processing facilities, and prepared and processed
scientific research for microgravity.
For more information on the scientific research conducted on the
Space Shuttle download the STS-128 mission Press Kit at:
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