BioServe will conduct experiments in space

BOULDER – BioServe Space Technologies will launch an experiment to the International Space Station next week that ultimately could lead to new drugs that work better on antibiotic-resistant diseases and infections.

BioServe is a NASA-funded research center in the aerospace engineering sciences department at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Funding information for the antibiotics experiment was not immediately available.

The experiment will test the effectiveness of antibiotic drugs on E. coli bacteria in space, according to a statement from the University of Colorado-Boulder. The idea is to find particular genes that resist antibiotics, which could lead to new drugs, improved testing on Earth, and new approaches doing research on antibiotic resistance, said David Klaus, the lead researcher on the project and an associate professor at CU-Boulder.

In past experiments, bacterial susceptibility to antibiotics was reduced during space flight, although researchers have not yet figured out why, Klaus said. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics kills an estimated 100,000 Americans annually, Klaus said. It represents an estimated $20 billion annual expense to the U.S. government in excess health-care costs, he said.

The experiment will be launched Tuesday, Jan. 7, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. Another experiment that involves ant behavior in microgravity also will be launched Tuesday. The ant experiment also was designed by BioServe Space Technologies at CU-Boulder.

In the past 25 years, the BioServe research center has designed life science research experiments for more than 40 space missions. Past BioServe partners include pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, universities and NASA-funded researchers, according to the press statement.

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