Astrogenetix, Inc. was formed by Astrotech Corporation to commercialize biotechnology products processed in the unique environment of microgravity. Through expertise gained by sending more than 1,500 NASA science experiments into space, Astrogenetix is exclusively positioned to help commercialize products derived from microgravity discoveries. We offer a turn-key platform for pre-flight sample preparation, flight hardware, mission planning and operations, crew training and certification processes needed within the highly regulated and complex environment of manned space flight. Astrogenetix is one of the first commercial entities to hold a Space Act Agreement with NASA for use of the International Space Station (ISS), a designated U.S. National Laboratory, for research, development and industrial processing purposes. This agreement, along with our relationship with various universities and government agencies and departments, gives us the ability to process valuable products in space to be commercialized on Earth.
Astrogenetix's primary research mission is to discover therapeutically relevant and commercially viable biomarkers — substances used as indicators of biologic states — in the microgravity environment of space. By applying a biotechnology model to this unique discovery process the company finds novel biomarkers that may not be identifiable via terrestrial experimentation. Through this method we expect to shorten the drug development timeframe and guide relevant therapeutics agents (or diagnostics) into the clinical trial process more quickly and cost-effectively.
Biomarkers are characteristics or "markers" of the state of a biological system or process, and their discovery helps us understand the complexities of a biological system and how to apply these discoveries to personalized medicine and drug development. These markers can be in the form of DNA, RNA, proteins, metabolites or any other measurable biologic material. Scientists can potentially use biomarkers as therapeutic targets or diagnostic markers, as well as in applications ranging from biotechnology research and development to agricultural and industrial processes. While the market for biomarkers has been active for years, Astrogenetix offers a new approach by examining biomarkers in the microgravity environment, where, researchers believe, they will be expressed in novel ways — potentially leading to new discoveries.
Astrogenetix has discovered a Salmonella vaccine candidate, which demonstrates the power of our micro-g Vaccine Processing Platform (VPP). We intend to seek investigational review board (IRB) approval and file an investigational new drug (IND) application for the vaccine in 2010. Through Astrogenetix's proprietary VPP a unique gene was discovered to demonstrate increased virulence during spaceflight. This discovery led to the isolation and formulation of a unique vaccine candidate slated to enter clinical trials during the second half of 2010. This success validates our position that microgravity can be used as a tool in the discovery of unique and commercially applicable biomarkers.