SpaceX is preparing to send a deadly antibiotic-resistant superbug into orbit on February 14. The « MRSA » superbug will reach the International Space Station on Valentine’s Day where it will be subjected to microgravity.
No, the goal is not to contaminate space! Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA is a bacterial infection that is resistant to methicillin-type antibiotics and can cause serious infections like pneumonia or bacteremia. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem and is one of the most serious threats to global health today. Assuming that « knowing » your enemy is still the best way to defeat it, researchers hope to study the effects of this unusual spatial environment on the bacteria, with the aim of paving the way for more effective treatments.
This NASA-funded study therefore aims to cultivate the superbug in the laboratory inside the International Space Station (ISS), with microgravity having the effect of accelerating the mutation process. As confirmed by Anita Goel, CEO of biotech company Nanobiosym, the goal here is to » leverage the microgravity environment on the ISS to accelerate the medical revolution here on Earth « . From there, Goel and his team will develop models that will predict how the antibiotic-resistant pathogen might mutate on Earth in the coming years, giving labs a head start in designing new treatments. more efficient.
» Anticipating drug-resistant mutations will lead to a generation of more precise antibiotics designed to halt the spread of the world’s most dangerous pathogens », explains the researcher. » Our work in microgravity on the International Space Station is both very practical and fundamental « . Two strains of Staphylococcus aureus will be sent to the ISS for culture. The samples will then be analyzed and the mutation profiles will be compared with those seen in control samples on Earth.