A healthy immune system is what defends the body from invaders like bacteria and viruses. But for the elderly and those facing chronic diseases, the immune system can wear down over time. To better understand the relationship between immune aging and how the body heals itself, a team of scientists took their research to new heights by leveraging the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory to study microgravity’s effects on immune cell function.
As people age, their immune system function declines gradually over time, which makes them increasingly vulnerable to infection and disease. Research shows that these same types of immune system changes have been observed in healthy astronauts during spaceflight, but at an accelerated rate. This makes the unique conditions of the space station an ideal platform for studying the immune aging process.
This research is featured in the latest issue of Upward, the official magazine of the ISS National Lab. Upward is dedicated to communicating the results of ISS National Lab-sponsored experiments that demonstrate the value of space-based research and technology development. Read the article “Unlocking the Secrets of the Immune System: How Tissue Chips in Space Could Hold the Key” to discover how scientists are leveraging the orbiting laboratory for research that could lead to new treatments for patients with compromised immune systems on Earth.