Advanced strategies to fight cancer are taking inspiration from experiments in the final frontier of outer space, researchers say.
The gravity experienced in low-Earth orbit, which is 10,000 to 1 million times less powerful than that felt on Earth's surface, allows researchers to study cell behavior that's normally masked by responses to gravity. Learning more about these processes is shedding light on how cells usually work, and how they can malfunction in the case of cancer.
"When you take away the force of gravity, you can unmask some things you can't readily see on Earth," said cell biologist Jeanne Becker of Nano3D Biosciences in Houston. "When gravitational force is reduced, cell shape changes, the way they grow changes, the genes they activate change, the proteins they make change." [6 Cool Space Shuttle Experiments]