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The Alsaleh group participates in the national STEM programme, ‘Our World From Space’, hosted at the Museum of Natural History.

Alsaleh group

On Saturday the 9th March, some of our team from the Alsaleh Lab, led by Dr Ghada Alsaleh, participated in the national STEM initiative called Our World From Space, hosted at the Museum of Natural History in Oxford. During the event we shared details about how space impacts cell ageing, using interactive activities to present the sample preparation that will be sent to space. Members of our audience had the opportunity to learn about the preparation of 3D organoids, 

Science at the Museum of Natural Historya mixture of different cell types that mimic the cellular niche of a human body and resemble the joint cavity and immune system.

“We are growing human cells in space on the International Space Station (ISS) because we think they age faster. If they do, we

can do experiments on ‘old’ cells quicker by taking them into space. This might help us find cures for arthritis or other diseases of old age.”

Many children and families visited our stand and engaged with activities including the model of the experimental ‘lab in a cube’ that will go to the International Space Station. They could try puzzle cubes to try to fit all the bits back into the cube for building up the “mini lab”; pH measuring to show the importance of keeping cells at the right acidity/alkalinity level to survive; and pH monitoring to test different liquids and see which is the best for the cells to survive.

Before the launch, 3D organoids will be placed in special cuvette tubes, containing a liquid that will nourish them and enable their survival during the trip to space. In collaboration with Space Applications Services, special ice cubes will be used to maintain the optimal conditions for the sample survival, and microscopic cameras will be used to monitor the sample throughout the operation.

By doing so, scientists from the Alsaleh group, in collaboration with ISS, Metavisionaries and Space application services, aim to understand how ageing is different in space, and how it affects our biology and process of getting old. This will enable us to tackle space ageing to help astronauts whilst in space and also develop drugs that will target ageing on Earth.

Thank you to Natalie Ford and DPhil student Giulia Biasi for coming to help!

Alsaleh group