Mice were sent to space to test a bone-building drug developed at UCLA
Osteoporosis greatly affects over 200 million people worldwide. As part of a test for a new experimental drug that could hopefully treat this disease someday, scientists at UCLA bring mice and this new drug at the space!
This experimental drug is believed to also help patients with bone damage or loss which is usually related to traumatic bone injury, such as astronauts losing bone density while in space or an injury acquired from a military service for instance.
The research team led by Dr. Chia Soo, Dr. Ben Wu and Dr. Kang Ting, sent 40 rodents to the International Space Station last week. The rodents will be admistered with the experimental drug once there. The drug being studied is based on a bone-building protein called NELL-1. This project is being performed in collaboration with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space and NASA.
Soo, the principal investigator of the study, the vice chair for research in the UCLA division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and a member of the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, said, “This is really a pivotal point in the study of NELL-1’s effect on bone density. We would not be at this point without many years of funding and support from the National Institutes of Health, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and several ULCA departments and centers. We are honored to conduct the next phase of our research in the U.S. National Laboratory.”
Dr. Jin Hee Kwak, assistant professor of orthodontics in the UCLA School of Dentistry and project manager on the study, said, “The preparations have been very exciting; we’ve had conference calls with NASA’s Ames Research Center every two weeks to go over all the fine details.