Washington: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are conducting a blood cell experiment which may improve treatments for cancer, the media reported.
In a new video published by the US space agency as part of the AngieX Cancer Therapy study, the team led by NASA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor were shown examining endothelial cells that come from blood vessels, space.com reported on Tuesday.
Several cartridge-shaped containers on board the ISS currently host the cells as they undergo varying amounts of chemotherapy exposure.
The team is conducting blood experiments in space because sometimes, cells act differently in the weightless environment of orbiting spacecraft, called microgravity.
Because these orbiting cells perform more like they normally do inside the body, cancer researchers can more accurately test the cells for chemotherapy responses, the report said.
In the video, Aunon-Chancellor said the flat endothelial containers feel "all nice and warm and comfortable," because they are kept at body temperature aboard the space lab.
"We've had them for almost two months now up here in ISS. We feed them. We give them nutrients … they are like miniature crewmembers living with us."
According to NASA, endothelial cells housed within culture dishes (in vitro) in microgravity seem to perform as if they were in blood vessels within a living organism (in vivo) on Earth.
"The study may facilitate a cost-effective method that does not require animal testing, which may help develop safer and more-effective vascular-targeted drugs," the project page on NASA stated.