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NASA's space studies benefiting cancer research

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, February 28, 2014, 11:07 AM -

Researchers have long known that things behave strangely in outer space -- and that's providing medical experts with a better understanding of the human immune system reacts to diseases here on Earth.

Take cancer, for example.

Researchers have recently discovered that tumors appear less aggressive in a microgravity environment, a discovery that could eventually lead to more effective treatments.

NASA says these findings can't be duplicated on Earth, even in simulated microgravity. 


 RELATED: Scientists can now track whales from outer space


"Microgravity can be approximated on Earth, but we know from the literature that simulated microgravity isn’t the same as the real thing," says Daniela Gabriele Grimm, M.D., a researcher with the Department of Biomedicine, Pharmacology at Aarhus University, in a statement.

"The [international space] station is an invaluable tool for long-term studies of cells in microgravity. Exposure to real microgravity in space will always be the gold standard for all microgravity research and will therefore always be an important cornerstone of our work."

The complete findings can be found online at the FASEB journal.

Thyroid cancer cell line FTC-133 after four hours of exposure to simulated microgravity, stained blue, red and green. Courtesy: Team Daniela Grimm

Thyroid cancer cell line FTC-133 after four hours of exposure to simulated microgravity, stained blue, red and green. Courtesy: Team Daniela Grimm

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