New crew, new experiments: NASA's SpaceX Crew-7 mission brings more biomedical research to ISS

A new crew of astronauts has begun conducting biomedical research on the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission, which launched Aug. 26 and arrived a day later, ferried astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA, the European Space Agency’s Andreas Mogensen, Russian Space Agency cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov and Satoshi Furukawa of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency up to the space station. They will spend the next six months helping conduct more than 200 experiments, including some from biotech companies and research teams leveraging microgravity for medical research.

The ISS National Laboratory highlighted some of the research projects the team will be working on in an Aug. 23 post on its website. They include experiments from the University of California, Santa Barbara, which is studying how mucus lining the airways of the respiratory system can be used to carry a drug delivery system called a liquid plug therapeutic to the lungs. Meanwhile, experiments from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory will look at how microgravity and cosmic radiation can be used to alter melanin—the pigment that gives dark skin and hair its color—so it can be used for biomaterials.

The crew will also be taking part in several ongoing tissue chip studies aboard the ISS, as well as a new one from biotech startup Encapsulate. The company is studying how chips mounted on a patient’s cancer cells can be used in personalized medicine as a way to test out the effectiveness of different chemotherapies. Meanwhile, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco are adding to their roster of ISS tissue chip studies, too, this time to examine how immune system aging impacts liver regeneration.

Scientists from industry and academia have been conducting biomedical research on the ISS since its inception more than 20 years ago. Studies on the space station have produced hundreds of scientific papers on a vast array of topics, ranging from Alzheimer’s disease and cancer to cells’ biological rhythms and drug delivery.