NASA has fired a sample of E.Coli bacteria into space in an effort to save astronauts from being infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Scientists are testing the theory that bacteria in zero gravity have an increased ability to resist antibiotics. This can threaten the health of astronauts who have to spend a lot of their time in zero gravity conditions.
‘If we find resistance is higher in microgravity, we can do something, because we’ll know the gene responsible for it, and be able to design countermeasures,’ said A. C. Matin, principal investigator for the EcAMSat investigation carried out by Stanford University in California.
“If we are serious about the exploration of space, we need to know how human vital systems are influenced by microgravity.”
According to an article in The Daily Mail, there’s a belief among scientists believe that bacteria like E. coli suffer stress in microgravity. This stimulates defense systems in the microorganism, which makes it a bigger challenge for antibiotics to deal with.
Bacteria on Earth behave in a similar way as they can build a resistance to typical antibiotic drugs. So, an understanding of E. Coli’s behavior in space can assist scientists in knowing how to deal with antibiotic-resistant strains on Earth as well.
The E. coli strains used on EcAMSat are responsible for urinary tract infections, which can happen to astronauts in space in addition to other types of infections.
NASA launched E. coli strains that cause urinary tract infections which is a condition that often affects astronauts when they’re on their missions. Their goal is to figure out the adequate antibiotic dosage that will effectively treat E. coli infections in space they also want to investigate how drug treatments for infections can be improved overall.
What are you bringing to Thanksgiving this year? Treat your friends and family to astronaut-style cornbread with this recipe straight out of our Space Food Laboratory, no freeze drying required: https://t.co/j4eIYA2UBe #HappyThanksgiving pic.twitter.com/WUYYi3A3Ga— NASA (@NASA) November 23, 2017
According to NASA, the E. coli was fired into space from the International Space Station on a satellite called the EcAMSat, which is short for E. Coli Antimicrobial Satellite. It’s a satellite that’s about the size of a shoe-box and is autonomous which means that the experiment will be conducted on the spacecraft without any input from anyone on Earth. Research students at Santa Clara University in California will observe the experiment, coordinate operations and download the experiment’s findings.
The satellite will stimulate the bacteria with a nutrient-filled liquid, adjusting the temperature so that it matches the human body’s. It will then add various amounts of antibiotics to the E. coli samples. The experiment will test two strains of E. coli. One of them has a gene that gives it a natural resistance to antibiotics and the other doesn’t.
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