An innovative experiment on the International Space Station could help researchers make new progress in the fight against aggressive neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It is called ‘Ring-Sheared Drop’ and is housed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox of the orbiting station at whose command is the Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, to allow the study of the formation of potentially destructive amyloid fibrils, such as those found in brain tissues of patients who fight against neurodegenerative diseases.
The function of amyloid fibrils
Normal brain functions can be interrupted precisely by these amyloid fibrils, or particular proteins that can denature, accumulate over time in the extracellular site, and interrupt the robust functionality of human tissues and organs. In cases of diseases like Alzheimer’s, this degeneration can be profoundly debilitating and even fatal, experts say on the NASA website. “This engagement is an exceptional example of the incredible discoveries and progress possible with the collaboration between the American Space Agency, research, and the industry,” said Jan Hess, president of Teledyne Brown, the research group protagonist of the experiments. “We hope that this space test will bring the scientific community closer to unraveling the mysteries of these diseases that affect so many people around the world every day.”
A two-year experiment in micro-gravity offers the opportunity to study the formation of amyloid fibrils in conditions that eliminate unwanted effects, and that can influence the results of standard laboratory experiments. The team is working very hard, and we expect it to find information, “he added. Experiments, the specialists point out, began in September, and the study is expected to continue for at least two years. Furthermore, another goal for scientists will be to use the structure inside which these tests are carried out as a space bioreactor, customization for other studies on fluids or cells, bacteria, algae, and other materials.