LANL scientists launching gut bacteria study in space

Local News

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico scientists are launching an experiment to the International Space Station to find out how gut bacteria and people’s overall health changes over time in space.

The testing aims to help protect future astronauts and find out how to prevent negative effects on everyone’s gut health. “We are really excited. We want to find out what is going to happen when these microbes are in space,” LANL Microbiologist Anand Kumar said.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Labs are sending off two dozen so-called gut microbiome samples to the International Space Station on the SpaceX 20 Friday night.

“This platform will represent the human before they even get into space and we can predict, hopefully, what long-term space travel will be like for that person before they embark on their mission,” LANL Microbiologist Armand Dichosa explained. “The gut bacteria is very much involved in our overall health and well-being and that any alterations or changes, also known as dysbiosis, will conform to different forms of diseases.” After a month in space, they’ll be compared with samples left on Earth to see if scientists need to create a probiotic regimen for space travelers.

“[That’s] to prevent them from experiencing any form of a disease as a function of microgravity,” Dichosa said. “Our defensive bacteria may be lost over time in microgravity. If we do find that such bacteria are being depleted, then perhaps we can create a probiotic pill that would re-feed your gut with these beneficial bacteria at a certain particular time during space travel.”

These personalized treatments could also be used for patients with gut health deficiencies on Earth. This pilot test comes with the hope of creating a plan for more of this testing out of LANL.

You can catch the live stream of the launch at 9:50 p.m. Friday on NASA’s website.

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