Development Status of the WetLab-2 Project : New Tools for On-orbit Real-time Quantitative Gene Expression..
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- The primary objective of NASA Ames Research Centers WetLab-2 Project is to place on the ISS a research platform to facilitate gene expression analysis via quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) of biological specimens grown or cultured on orbit. The WetLab-2 equipment will be capable of processing multiple sample types ranging from microbial cultures to animal tissues dissected on-orbit. In addition to the logistical benefits of in-situ sample processing and analysis, conducting qRT-PCR on-orbit eliminates the confounding effects on gene expression of reentry stresses and shock acting on live cells and organisms. The system can also validate terrestrial analyses of samples returned from ISS by providing quantitative on-orbit gene expression benchmarking prior to sample return. The ability to get on orbit data will provide investigators with the opportunity to adjust experimental parameters for subsequent trials based on the real-time data analysis without need for sample return and re-flight. Finally, WetLab-2 can be used for analysis of air, surface, water, and clinical samples to monitor environmental contaminants and crew health. The verification flight of the instrument is scheduled to launch on SpaceX-5 in Aug. 2014.Progress to date: The WetLab-2 project completed a thorough study of commercially available qRT-PCR systems and performed a downselect based on both scientific and engineering requirements. The selected instrument, the Cepheid SmartCycler, has advantages including modular design (16 independent PCR modules), low power consumption, and rapid ramp times. The SmartCycler has multiplex capabilities, assaying up to four genes of interest in each of the 16 modules. The WetLab-2 team is currently working with Cepheid to modify the unit for housing within an EXPRESS rack locker on the ISS. This will enable the downlink of data to the ground and provide uplink capabilities for programming, commanding, monitoring, and instrument maintenance. The project is currently designing a module that will lyse the cells and extract RNA of sufficient quality for use in qRT-PCR reactions while using a housekeeping gene to normalize RNA concentration and integrity. Current testing focuses on two promising commercial products and chemistries that allow for RNA extraction with minimal complexity and crew time.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20140011084., ARC-E-DAA-TN11732., Annual American Society for Gravitational and Space Research Conference; 3-8 Nov. 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL; United States., and International Symposium for Physical Sciences in Space; 3-8 Nov. 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL; United States.
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