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Previous space flight studies conducted by NASA of the bacteria Salmonella enterica demonstrated that growth of this organism in the microgravity environment elicits unique interactions in biological systems that do not occur on Earth, specifically enhanced virulence.
The time, money and resources expended in drug development could be minimized by using a process which identifies promising agents or drug candidates earlier in the development pipeline – for quicker testing to evaluate downstream efficacy and market potential.
Using microgravity, years may be eliminated from research and development pipeline activities, to allow for fast-tracking of promising agents, and termination of unsuccessful agents at earlier time points.
In this manner, ISS may not only be a one-of-a-kind laboratory resource for the development of new and sorely needed pharmaceutical and therapeutic products, but could also facilitate an entirely new kind of biotechnology industry based upon discovery in microgravity.
For more information, see Microgravity—A Tool to Provide New Targets for Vaccine Design (NASA).