The experts are transporting fungi into outer space for research purposes. They want to make novel drugs via carrying out experiments on these fungi.
Scientists are ready to send four types of fungi into outer space. They will be transported to the ISS. There they will be observed to see how they act under conditions of microgravity and radiation.
This is not being done for mere experimental purposes. Rather this scheme of things will allow the genesis of novel medications which will be used on earth. They may even be employed in the context of outer space.
These series of experiments will explore the intersection between space surveying and medical research. Mostly fungus has gotten a bad rap. We normally don’t want to come in contact with fungi.
Athletes foot, moldy bread and late blight of potato are three examples of fungi that we could probably do without. However, we forget that many fungi are of great benefit to mankind.
Many years ago, scientists discovered that many species of fungi produce secondary matabolites that help fight stress. Via a harvesting of these molecules, new drugs could be made that hold great potential for future disease eradication.
Take the example of penicillin. It is a natural antibiotic that fights bacteria. Discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928, this drug is now a common heritage of mankind. It wards off infections.
Other medicines derived from fungi include the cholesterol-decreasing lovastatin and griseofluvin. The experts are busy searching for other matabolites that may fight off such degenerative diseases as cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Even one of the most commonly studied fungi has over 40 different channels through which drugs could be derived from it. The only difference is that most of these pathways are never “turned on”.
In the context of Mother Nature, fungi make those products that they need to respond to the environment. These are their stock-in-trade and they normally don’t use them.
At a lab, a researcher grew fungi in 60 different high-stress situations. This was to cajole the fungi to produce novel pharmaceutical agents. Such drugs had never been seen before.
What remains to be seen is how fungi react to the zero gravity environment of space. Fungi would be grown inside the ISS. On April 8th, four strains of a fungi will be launched from Cape Canaveral, LATimes reported.
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They will be headed for the ISS aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. The experiment will last a week in duration and will yield important clues about future medication.