Bubbles from space to diagnose cancer: the ISS study starts

There is great excitement on the International Space Station. After the Italian Samantha Cristoforetti became the first European woman to command the station, now a new research comes to life right between metal and stars, in that deep space that we would like so much to conquer to improve our life on Earth.

The study concerns the so-called space bubbles, and is led by Tengfei Luo, a lecturer in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, who and his team hope to better understand how space bubbles form, grow and eventually separate from the surface. As is already happening with the careful measurement of human chromosomes, also in this case the information is precious (also) to improve diagnostic capabilities for life-threatening diseases, such as some types of cancer. The analyzes will be conducted by astronauts aboard the ISS, with the results that can be sent in real time to our planet to be observed.

In parallel to the research currently underway on the Space Station, scientists are in fact trying to understand how these curious bubbles – which probably come from the compression of the materials present within the ISS itself – can be used for the detection of specific types of cancer in the their initial phase, when cancer cells are still present in our body at very low concentrations.

You will then understand that the method under analysis could prove to be a precious ally in increasing the sensitivity of the early diagnosis, essential for eradicating this type of disease.

In his study published in the scientific journal Advanced Materials Interface, Luo took advantage of the laser heating to generate bubbles in a solution containing biological molecules. It was therefore found that these can be drawn into the same bubble to be deposited on the surface, in order to create a sort of very high concentration island to encourage the future development of highly sensitive diagnostics. The ISS experiment tests the behavior of bubbles in absence of gravity. The reason is very specific: there are several factors that can negatively influence their dynamics in traditional environmental conditions, such as gravity, capillary force and friction. For early diagnosis with markers, it will be necessary to keep the bubbles on the surface as long as possible, in order to detect multiple biomolecules in a single simulation.

The study will be carried out through a small device called CubeLab, equipped with a particular technology that allows you to send images of each compartment in real time.

Andrea Guerriero


Bubbles space diagnose cancer ISS study starts

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