CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA is announcing the winners of its latest Centennial Challenge to grow human tissue in a laboratory, and you can watch the action live online.
On Wednesday, June 9, the space agency announces the two best winners of a competition to grow and maintain human tissue in a laboratory here at the earth. The competition, announced by NASA five years ago, is part of a larger challenge to spur the technological advances needed to March while improving life on earth.
You can watch the announcement live here and on the Space.com website with permission from NASA, or you can watch it directly from the agency here.
Related: Why are scientists trying to make organs in space?
NASA’s Centennial Challenge program was launched in 2005 to “create revolutionary solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation”. according to the agency. Other challenges have focused on 3D-printed habitats, space robotics and the conversion of carbon dioxide to sugar.
For this challenge, researchers from 11 different teams across the country tried to create hunks of laboratory-grown human tissues for thick-walled organs such as the heart, lung, liver and kidney. The tissue had to be at least 1 inch thick and the team had to hold it for 30 days. A total of $ 500,000 was on the way.
NASA has said three teams will receive prize money, with the winners announced on a live news broadcast Wednesday afternoon. The first place winner also has the chance to submit a research study to International Room Station as part of an effort to expand their research.
This type of laboratory-grown vascularized tissue could help researchers with better modeling of diseases and improve the development of new drugs for long-term deep space missions.
One of the 11 participating teams, Techshot, has already sent hardware into space that could one day print human tissue into orbit. Their Biofabrication facility (BFF) launched on a SpaceX freight supply mission in 2019. This project aims to print tissue in 3D and even human organs – such as hearts or lungs. The technology relies on adult human cells and adult tissue-derived proteins or chains of amino acids as a source material for viable tissue.
BFF printed several samples of heart tissue before returning to Earth for some upgrades. BFF’s next flight to the space station will be later this summer as it runs to orbit one Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft.
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