The International Space Station has become a laboratory for the study of human diseases with the second batch of organs to be flown aboard SpaceXDragon C19/Falcon 9 supply shuttle in last week of April or May. Apart from Kidneys-on-Chips three other organs are being transported to learn about lung host defences, brain diseases, musculoskeletal diseases in the un-manned space mission.
The kidney-on-chips are credit-card sized chps containing fluid microchambers lined with human-derived kidney cells. The scientists believe that exposure of these kidney cells to micro gravity for a few weeks might help them learn faster about how kidney diseases occur than conducting terrestrial research in humans. The new research is expected to not only prevent kidney problems occurring in astronauts but even those who are never likely to take a space travel. According to scientists, certain indicators of problem with kidneys such as protein in urine, bone loss and kidney stones appear faster in space than on earth.
The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health were behind the development of these bio-engineered tissue chips. They are modelled on the physiology of human organs on a living, 3-D microscale. The organ-on-chips were designed by the scientists at University of Washington School of Pharmacy and UW Medicine.