In-Space Biomanufacturing for Human Health Innovation Hub University of Florida

The InSpa Bio Hub was established through the University of Florida’s strategic funding initiative. Led by Dr. Siobhan Malany, an associate professor in the UF College of Pharmacy, the hub will align researchers across the university to conduct astrobiology experiments in space and on the ground to reveal the significant effects of low gravity on biological systems.

Funded PROJECTS

Principal Investigator: Dr. Josephine Allen, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering

The impact of altered hemodynamics in simulated microgravity on vascular endothelial cells

The goal of this proposal is to reveal mechanistic insight into the effect of spaceflight on cardiovascular physiology and endothelial cell function from the molecular, cellular, and genetic-level perspectives to support investigation into targeted therapeutics to benefit flight crew and terrestrial cardiovascular health.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Dr. Elizabeth Barton, UF College of Health and Human Performance

Harnessing load sensor signaling in skeletal muscle to preserve functional mass in anti-gravity

Skeletal muscle has the remarkable ability to adapt to changes in workload. The goal of this pilot project is to evaluate the impact of loss of mechanical load that occurs during spaceflight, on signaling pathways in the presence and absence of muscle sensors. We will take advantage of mouse models lacking the muscle sensor complex and human tissue chip models derived from patients with loss of function mutations leading to muscle dystrophy to determine the stability of the load sensors in the absence of load mimicking anti-gravity. These studies provide validated terrestrial and space-based tissue-on-chip disease and human performance models.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jamie Foster, UF/IFAS

Engineering a microgravity-induced bacterial outer membrane vesicle shuttle system to deliver targeted molecules during host-microbe interactions

Microbes are critical for the health of all animals. One of the major mechanisms by which microbes communicate with their hosts is through the production of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs). OMVs have been shown to serve as an important delivery mechanism to regulate host-microbe interactions. Perturbations to these interactions, such as spaceflight and simulated microgravity, can increase OMV production and shedding. The overall goal of this project is to engineer a mutualistic bacterium with a microgravity sensor system linked to the production of a biologically relevant or needed nutrient that will be delivered to host epithelial tissues.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Dr. Mei He, UF COllege of pharmacy

Biomanufacturing and investigating extracellular vesicles for next generation space nanomedicine

Biomanufacturing space nanomedicine will be a new paradigm in the field of space health. This proposal will harness the research strengths from space tissue chip and extracellular vesicle therapeutics to study muscle tissue and their culture derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) under micro-gravity, ultimately to derive space enabling bio-production of therapeutic EVs with tissue regeneration, repair, and restoration.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Dr. Yousong Ding, UF College of Pharmacy

Advancing Therapeutic Biomanufacturing in Space Using Engineered Yeast

The long-term objective of this collaborative project is to pioneer yeast-based biomanufacturing systems to produce critical therapeutics in the unique environment of space. Astronauts face numerous health risks including space radiation, prolonged isolation, and microgravity. The development of on-demand, resource-efficient production methods for therapeutic agents is imperative to mitigate these risks. This pilot project seeks to program yeast cells to produce melatonin and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), addressing sleep deficiency and diabetogenic changes prevalent in astronauts. This project represents a transformative step toward ensuring the health and well-being of astronauts through the controllable production of vital therapeutics in space, advancing both space exploration and biomanufacturing frontiers.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Dr. Thomas Schmittgen, UF COLLEGE OF PHARMACY

EV transcriptomics at single vesicle resolution from rare samples: Applications to space medicine

Changes in the biological composition of biofluids such as blood and urine during space flights have been documented for decades. However, only recently has changes in the extracellular vesicle (EV) components of biofluids been studied in individuals undergoing space flight. EVs are nanosized vesicles shed from cells that contain a variety of cargo that is shuttled to and interacts with distant cells in the body. While the stability and diverse content of EVs make them ideal biomarkers, the vast heterogeneity in vesicle structure, composition, content and function limits our understanding of their role in biology and disease. To address this challenge and to study the heterogeneity in individual EV RNA cargo from mice exposed to microgravity, we propose to perform whole transcriptomic sequencing on rare micro liter sample volumes of plasma and low mg tissue samples from mice who either underwent space flight or were exposed to microgravity under experimental conditions.

In SPA Bio Hub DIRECTOR

Associate Professor, UF College of Pharmacy

Siobhan Malany, Ph.D.

Email: smalany@ufl.edu

Dr. Malany

Co-Principal investigators

InSpa Bio Hub IN THE NEWS