Recently, an Australian biomedical engineer, Joshua Chou conducted an experiment that was intended to eliminate cancer cells or at least stop them from growing further.
According to DW, he was prompted to test how cancer cells behave at zero-gravity following his previous research on how to prevent bone loss in space.
The research concludes that zero gravity has a remarkable effect on tumors, the findings indicate that 80% to 90% of the cancer cells died in the experiment.
The researchers presumed that the cancer cells were not able to communicate with each other or inspect their surroundings because of microgravity disrupts which eventually caused them to die.
Joshua Chou told ABC, “We took four different types of cancer cells from different parts of the body — breast, ovary, lungs, and nose — and put them in a microgravity condition. And what we found was that in 24 hours, 80 to 90% of these cancer cells actually died,”
The researchers still claim that this is not some kind of magic cure for cancer, instead, it will work along with other treatments to boost up the process and to better eliminate the damaged cells.
So how does zero gravity destroy the cancer cell? According to the scientific evidence the cell receptors rely on gravity and once we eliminate gravity from the equation the cancer cells won’t be able to find or sense each other thus stopping the tumor to grow.
Joshua developed the first-ever microgravity equipment which allowed him to conduct this experiment. The device is a small sized box or as he defines it “something that looks like the pods astronauts train in.”
The cancers that Chou worked with are the hardest to fight and thanks to this new research the cancer cells can be killed without any medications. He and his team have also collaborated with SpaceX to launch a specially designed module to send cancer cells to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020 for further analysis.
“We want to see if it is actually microgravity that’s having an effect on the cell, or could it be other things in space — like solar radiation?” he said. But such an experiment is not easily conducted.
If this task is accomplished, the researchers will be able to monitor all the data feeds from the Earth. They plan on loading the module with four kinds of cancer cells which include lungs, nose, breast and ovarian.
The experiment will be conducted for 7 days, after that the cells will be frozen and delivered back to Earth on a shuttle. Further analysis will be done to examine the changes more closely once the cells are back in the lab.
So does this mean that cancer patients will be sent to space for treatment? Although this is a possibility but Chou aims to work on a medicine that will “trick” cancer cells into behaving like they are in space.
This isn’t the only research conducted on zero gravity’s effect on cancer cells. Currently, 9 other research projects are working on similar experiments. One such project is “Tumours in Space” that will examine the effects of microgravity and cosmic radiation on the growth of tumors