24.12.2018 change 24.12.2018

Wrocław students in the ESA competition; they will study cancer cells in hypergravity

Source: Facebook page of the ARES project Source: Facebook page of the ARES project

Students from three Wrocław universities plan to study the functioning of human cancer cells under conditions of altered gravity. Conducting the experiment will be possible thanks to their participation in the Spin Your Thesis! contest of the European Space Agency.

The proposal of an experiment concerning the functioning of human cancer cells in altered gravity has been prepared by a group of students and graduates of Wroclaw Medical University, the University of Wrocław and the Wrocław University of Science and Technology, associated in the inter-university project ARES (Astrobiology and Radiation Experiments in Stratosphere). The project has been accepted by ESA Academy researchers for implementation as part of the international contest Spin Your Thesis! 2019, the team coordinator Dawid Przystupski told PAP.

"Thanks to this, we are proud to be the first Polish student team that will conduct medicine and astrobiology research in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). In September 2019, under the watchful eye of the ESA, we will check how cancer cells behave in hypergravity. We will use a special centrifuge called Large Diameter Centrifuge (LDC) in the Netherlands" - Przystupski explains.

In this device, experiments can be conducted on samples that will be exposed to different gravity than the one we experience in Earth`s conditions. Accelerations that can be achieved in LDC range from 1g to 20g. Students from Wrocław participating in the Spin Your Thesis! program will be able to carry out their research in such conditions.

"In addition, we will check in controlled laboratory conditions how simulated microgravity affects cells. This way, just like ESA and NASA scientists, we will try to find out how cells receive the stimulus of gravity and how they function in altered gravity environment. We believe that the results may have applications not only in space, but also in clinical practice" - adds Agata Górska, co-author of the experiment.

Przystupski explains that the team`s idea is based on the results of experiments carried out so far both on Earth and in orbit, which have shown that the physiological response of cancer cells to the stimulus of gravity is different than that of healthy cells, which may have therapeutic applications. "Previous studies have shown that altered gravity can promote cell death and sensitise cells to the effects of cytostatics. In our experiment we go a step further, we want to check whether these reports are also valid for cells with documented resistance to chemotherapeutics" - notes Dawid Przystupski.

After conducting the experiment, students will analyse the results and submit a report to ESA, which means that the experiment will be the beginning of their longer cooperation with the agency.

To conduct their research, members of the Cancer Cell Biology Student Science Club at Wroclaw Medical University received nearly 320,000 PLN co-financing in the Ministry of Science competition Best of the Best 3.0, carried out with funds of the Operational Program Knowledge Education Development.

More information about the project is available at https://www.facebook.com/Astrobiology.ARES/posts/2202497373351390

PAP - Science in Poland, Ewelina Krajczyńska

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