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Stem cell experiments launched in space

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A team led by Tsinghua University professor Kekhooi Kee, Ph.D., is researching how gravity affects the development of human embryonic stem cells in space. The cells are one of several scientific experiments included on China’s first unmanned cargo spacecraft, the Tianzhou-1, which lifted off last Thursday (April 20) from the Wenchang Space Launch Center.

Dr. Kee was quoted in the South China Morning Post on the importance of the experiment. It’s the first step toward directly understanding human reproduction during space exploration, he said, questioning whether the process of differentiation in the human stem cell might be delayed or otherwise impacted.

In another stem cell experiment aboard the Tianzhou-1, scientists from the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences are studying the effects of microgravity on how stem cells multiply and form into cells with different functions.  Lei Xiachua, Ph.D., a team member on that experiment, said the researchers plan to continue their work by culturing heart, kidney, liver and spleen tissues on China’s future space station, expected by launched by 2022.

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http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/2089624/tianzhou-1-experiments-put-stem-cells-space-test