Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Germs Sent to Space Return Home Deadlier

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NASA is conducting a study on germs it sent as part of an experiment that returned home much more deadly.

NASA wanted to conduct an experiment on how pathogenic bacteria behaved outside the confines of Earth's gravity. Its experiment bore some surprising results.

In September 2006, the Space Shuttle STS-115 launched, carrying in its cargo a sample of Salmonella bacteria. The sample was part of a collaborative experiment with Arizona State University's Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, which wanted to investigate the effects of weightlessness and other space phenomena on pathogens. ASU kept a separate sample in similar condition on earth as a control group.

When the sample from space returned, they proceeded to feed both strains of salmonella to lab mice.

The results were startling. After 25 days, 40 percent of the earth-strain mice were still alive. Only 10 percent of the group infected with the space-strain was still alive. Researchers conducted additional studies which revealed that only 1/3 as many of the space-strain pathogens were needed to kill a healthy mouse as earth strain pathogens. The conclusions--the space strain had become far more deadly on its journey into orbit.

Read the rest of the article at DailyTech.

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