Biotechnology, Cell Biology and Microgravity
Published on Jan 1, 2017
· DOI :10.1007/978-3-319-64054-9_1
Gravity, a physical factor being available and constant on Earth since its origin some three and a half billion years ago, has governed the origin, the distribution and evolution of life and still does so. To fully understand its importance, experiments under space conditions, i.e. in the absence of gravity, have been performed since the advent of spaceflight in the middle of the last century. Projects in biotechnology and cell biology are in the focus of this booklet. Due to the lack of gravity, i.e. lack of sedimentation, thermal convection, and—in fluids—hydrostatic pressure, processes such as free-flow electrophoresis and electro cell fusion have been shown to lead to increased separation or fusion in microgravity, respectively. Improved crystallization of biological macromolecules has enabled progress in structure determination with positive consequences, for instance, in drug discovery and design. Cell biological research in space provided a better understanding of the physiological functioning of cells and organisms and led to applications in tissue engineering such as the growth of bone, cartilage and artificial vessels. Also, cancer research has benefitted from cell research in microgravity.