Space Lung Tissue Experiment Returns to Earth
Little is known about how conditions in space affect astronauts’ lungs, according to Joaquin Cortiella, director of the Lab of Tissue Engineering and Organ Regeneration of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston. However, if microgravity or exposure to radiation significantly changes the lungs’ capacity to self-repair, future astronauts on a mission to Mars could struggle with serious breathing problems.
The experiment was designed so that both sets of lung-tissue samples were held in the exact same conditions. The only difference was the space environment of the ISS
At the end of the experiment, six of the samples returned to Earth for Nichols to study in detail. The researchers will look for signs of fibrosis or other cellular changes and differences between the Earth-grown samples and those cultivated in space. They will also look at the structure of the tissues and the activity of immune cells.