UA lands NASA grant to study effects of simulated space radiation

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Dr. Frederick Zenhausern, director of the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine and professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. (Source: University of Arizona) Dr. Frederick Zenhausern, director of the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine and professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. (Source: University of Arizona)
The International Space Station. (Source: NASA) The International Space Station. (Source: NASA)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The University of Arizona’s Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine has been awarded a grant by NASA, to study the effects of space radiation and cosmic rays on humans in the final frontier.

The Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine, or ANBM, is a co-principal investigator on a grant awarded to the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. This grant will fund research on the effects of simulated space radiation on the human gastrointestinal tract.

Dr. Frederic Zenhausern, director of ANBM and a professor at the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix, said UA scientists will provide the tools to Wake Forest University scientists. The lab’s share of the grant is $943,000 over four years.

This grant is one of the 10 awarded by NASA’s Transitional Research Institute, or TRI, at the Baylor College of Medicine, in which the grants specify research projects in lymphatic flow, radiation damage resistance, minimally-invasive surgical techniques and the effects of the microbiome on health during long spaceflights.  

“This is the first TRI initiative from NASA’s Human Research Program which will help to solve some of the challenges of health management for astronauts on extended space exploration missions,” Dr. Zenhausern said. “It represents an exciting opportunity to be part of an outstanding group of experts at Wake Forest, NASA and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.”

The idea of the study is to allow the scientists to see how cells respond to certain drugs or environmental exposure, allowing for the development of personalized therapies.

The study is conducted via organ-on-a-chip, where a chip provides a platform for studying a model of the human GI tract that mimics the actual conditions and processes which occur within the body.

In 2016, NASA established the TRI to research and develop innovative approaches to reduce risks to humans on long-duration exploration missions. The institute was awarded $246 million for six years and is led by Baylor College of Medicine with partners including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology.

More information can be found online at the University of Arizona's Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine's website, at phoenixmed.arizona.edu/anbm.

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