Research Facilities

The hardware for cell and tissue culturing falls into three main categories: basic incubators, perfused stationary culture systems, and rotating wall vessels. There is also a variety of supporting equipment, including refrigeration, monitoring, and analytical instruments. A description of various pieces of hardware relevant to cell and tissue culturing on board the ISS is provided in Chapter 3. A summary of these facilities is shown in Table 8-01.

Cell Culture Systems

Biopack

Biolab

Bioreactor

CBEF (Cell Biology Experiment Facility)

CCM (Cell Culture Module)

CCU (Cell Culture Unit)

CGBA (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus)

Incubator

MCS (Modular Cultivation System)

Rotating Cell Culture Vessel

Imaging

NIZEMI (Slow Rotating Centrifuge with Microscope)

Life Sciences Dissecting Microscope

ISS Compound Microscope

ISS Dissecting Microscope

Cameras/Video

In-Flight Sample Preparation & Preservation

GN2 Passive Freezer

Quick/Snap Cryogenic Freezer

Cryogenic Storage Freezer

-80°C Freezer (MELFI)

-20°C Freezer

4°C Refrigerator

SIGB - Standard Interface Glovebox

Life Sciences Glovebox

Flight Approved Preservatives for Cell Cultures

Table 8-01. Hardware available on board the ISS for research in biotechnology. Source: http.V/astrobiology. arc.nasa.gov/genomics/technologies/available_hardware.html

Table 8-01. Hardware available on board the ISS for research in biotechnology. Source: http.V/astrobiology. arc.nasa.gov/genomics/technologies/available_hardware.html

The incubators are designed to provide refrigeration as well as to allow preserving and incubating of multiple cell cultures simultaneously. The cell culture bags are transparent to allow visualization of the samples by light microscopy. The bioreactors provide temperature and pH control and allows for continual feeding and waste medium harvest from perfused stationary cultures. They also provide automated sample collection and injection, and high-quality video microscopy. The bioreactors can generally accommodate multiple cell culture chambers. Individual perfused culture chambers can be replaced on orbit. Specimens are loaded in chambers on the ground, and inoculation and subculture can occur in space. Unlike ground-based, rotating-wall bioreactors, in which laminar flow is set up to randomize the force vectors and to minimize the shear stress, space-based vessels have rotating walls in order to augment mass transport. Observation and video recording are possible through windows in the front of the unit, and cell and media samples can be removed on orbit through sample port (Figure 8-03).

Other ground-based methods for generating three-dimensional tissue constructs, such as the use of scaffolding constructed from biomaterials or micro-patterned substrates, may prove to be more effective sources of samples for multiple-chamber hardware such as the existing incubators and culture

Figure 8-03. Astronaut Frank L. Culbertson works at the NASA bioreactor rotating wall vessel in the Destiny laboratory on board the ISS. The bioreactor comprises four incubation/refrigeration chambers. Every 7 to 21 days (depending on growth rates), an astronaut uses a shrouded syringe and the bags' needleless injection ports to transfer a few cells to a fresh media bag, and to introduce a fixative so that the cells may be studied after flight. The design also lets the crew sample the media to measure glucose, gas, and pH levels, and to inspect cells with a microscope. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Figure 8-03. Astronaut Frank L. Culbertson works at the NASA bioreactor rotating wall vessel in the Destiny laboratory on board the ISS. The bioreactor comprises four incubation/refrigeration chambers. Every 7 to 21 days (depending on growth rates), an astronaut uses a shrouded syringe and the bags' needleless injection ports to transfer a few cells to a fresh media bag, and to introduce a fixative so that the cells may be studied after flight. The design also lets the crew sample the media to measure glucose, gas, and pH levels, and to inspect cells with a microscope. Photo courtesy of NASA.

systems. In addition, the amount of data produced by these new systems in a given period of time and amount of volume on the ISS will be significantly greater than would be produced by a bioreactor system.

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