Organ-on-a-chip developer Emulate said today it won a research grant to use its human Brain-Chip system to develop a research platform to be sent to the International Space Station.
The company’s Brain-Chip consists of neuronal and vascular endothelial cells in a micro-engineered environment, and experiments will be conducted under healthy and inflamed states to assess how space travel affects neuronal function.
“We are honored to be selected for this research at the International Space Station which sets forth courageous goals to pioneer discoveries in space and to improve human health here on Earth. As we make our Human Emulation System available to labs throughout the world, we continue to push new boundaries. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to collaborate with experts working in the space program so that we can leverage research with Organ-Chips in space and apply the learnings to human health challenges that are experienced on Earth,” prez & chief scientific officer Geraldine Hamilton said in a prepared statement.
The NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences provided an award of $2 million to Emulate, while coordination and implementation of the research system will be handled by The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, the company said.
“Conducting research with Organs-on-Chips technology on the International Space Station is a remarkable opportunity to understand disease and improve human health. Physiological functions in the microgravity of the International Space Station will provide insights that will increase translational effectiveness on Earth, including identifying novel targets for drug discovery and development,” NCATS Director Dr. Christopher Austin said in a press release.
The project looks to explore the relationship between inflammation and brain function, which is important for understanding neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the company said. The project will also focus on the blood-brain-barrier functionality, Emulate said.
Emulate said it will adapt instrumentation of its Human Emulation System to meet requirements for use of organ-on-chip tech on the ISS.
“The adaptation of our Organs-on-Chips technology for research in space advances new frontiers for designing the functionality of our system to be highly-automated, streamlined, and size-efficient. We are further optimizing our system to meet the requirements for use in space which, in turn, will enable us to improve our system for use by many researchers and companies on Earth,” project team lead and Emulate discovery director Chris Hinojosa said in prepared remarks.