Monday, February 25, 2013

Super Space Germs Could Threaten Astronauts

Sunlight glints off the International Space Station with the blue limb of Earth providing a dramatic backdrop in this photo taken by an astronaut on the shuttle Endeavour just before it docked after midnight on Feb. 10, 2010 during the STS-130 mission.  

The weightlessness of outer space can make germs even nastier, increasing the dangers astronauts face, researchers say.

These findings, as well as research to help reduce these risks, are part of the ongoing projects at the International Space Station that use microgravity to reveal secrets about microbes.

"We seek to unveil novel cellular and molecular mechanisms related to infectious disease progression that cannot be observed here on Earth, and to translate our findings to novel strategies for treatment and prevention," said microbiologist Cheryl Nickerson at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute. 

Nickerson detailed these findings on Monday (Feb. 18) at the annual meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science in Boston.

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