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Organoids in Space

Among the projects that the four astronauts who are to blast off for the International Space Station this week are to conduct is one examining how weightlessness affects brain organoids, Agence France Presse reports.

The astronauts, who include Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from the US, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Akihiko Hoshide, and the European Space Agency's Thomas Pesquet, are to be carried to the ISS by a SpaceX rocket, France24 adds, noting that NASA has delayed the launch, initially scheduled for Thursday, to Friday because of inclement weather.

Once there, AFP reports the astronauts will have a number of experiments to run, such as the one examining the effect of microgravity on brain organoids, which could inform future long-haul space flights as well as Earth-bound efforts to tackle brain diseases. Another project builds on ongoing work into tissue chips, it adds. "We don't fully understand why, but in microgravity, cell-to-cell communication works differently than it does in a cell culture flask on Earth," Liz Warren, senior program director at the ISS US National Laboratory, tells it, noting that the cells also gather differently in low gravity. "These features allow cells to behave more like they do when inside the body. Thus, microgravity appears to provide a unique opportunity for tissue engineering."

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