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ISSRDC to Highlight Opportunities Within Biomanufacturing in Space

Press Release From: Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
Posted: Monday, August 2, 2021

The 2021 International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) will feature a fireside chat on biomanufacturing in space. Gary Rodrigue, director of programs and partnerships at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), will moderate a discussion with Dr. William Wagner, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The discussion will focus on the value of space-based biomanufacturing and the critical role of the orbiting laboratory in advancing this research area. biomanufacturing and the critical role of the orbiting laboratory in advancing this research area.

Spaceflight studies over the last decade have shown that microgravity can enable a better understanding of fundamental biology and accelerate advancements in health care and medical technologies. Utilizing the low Earth orbit environment for biomedical research could lead to discoveries not possible on Earth. One area that has potential to provide both benefits to Earth and economic value is biomanufacturing in space. Biomanufacturing is the use of biological and nonbiological materials to produce commercially relevant biomolecules and biomaterials for use in preclinical, clinical, and therapeutic applications. 

In 2020, CASIS, manager of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, hosted a Biomanufacturing in Space Symposium together with the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The symposium brought together thought leaders in the areas of regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, and space-based research. The goal of the symposium was to identify the most promising opportunities to leverage the ISS for research and development (R&D) to advance space-based biomanufacturing. The symposium identified multiple opportunities in three key areas: disease modeling using microphysiological systems (also called tissue chips) and organoids, stem cells and stem-cell-derived products, and biofabrication. A perspective paper developed from the symposium was recently published in Preprints.

The ISSRDC session with Dr. Wagner will review the current state of biomedical research on the space station and highlight outcomes from the symposium. The session will also discuss how the ISS National Lab is uniquely positioned to enable R&D to advance space-based biomanufacturing and drive a robust biomanufacturing market in low Earth orbit.

The 10th annual ISSRDC will be held virtually August 3-5. This session will take place August 3, 1:30-2 p.m. EDT. ISSRDC is free to attend, although registration is required. To learn more about ISSRDC, view the latest agenda and speakers, and register, please visit www.issconference.org.

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About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Lab allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) manages the ISS National Lab, under cooperative agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit www.ISSNationalLab.org.

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