UArizona Research Project to Monitor Health of SpaceX Inspiration4 Crew Members


College of Medicine – Phoenix

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zenhausern and colleagues
From left to right: Frederic Zenhausern with Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine researchers Jerome Lacombe, Ali Fattahi, Jian Gu; Kaitlyn Janssen, an Arizona State University undergraduate student studying biomedical engineering; Jasmine Devadhasan; and Alexander Summers.

Space flight is not just for astronauts and rocket scientists anymore. SpaceX Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission, will make the dream of orbiting Earth come true for a crew of civilians on Sept. 15. Researchers with the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, led by center director Frederic Zenhausern, will provide the first in-flight testing of multiple biomarkers of stress, inflammation and immunity measured in a zero-gravity environment to monitor the health of the four-member crew.  

The essential task of protecting humans from exposure to hazards is critical to the prospect of future deep space exploration. Zenhausern and his team developed a novel technology that will monitor crew members’ stress, inflammation and immune levels during space flight through a blood droplet from a fingerstick or a saliva sample.

“Our development of advanced molecular diagnostics for multipurpose indications of emerging infectious diseases, health performance or risks of environmental exposure must benefit all populations where possible,” Zenhausern said. “This Inspiration4 mission shares some operational requirements similar to a consumer health product to be performed at home or in low-resources settings, which must be easy to use, minimally invasive, rapid and low cost.”

VeriFAST device
A VeriFAST device.

The Vertical Integrated Flow Assay System Technology, known as VeriFAST, uses blood or saliva deposited onto a device to perform rapid assessments of physiological or molecular effects on humans. The system provides precise measurements, including multiplex molecular diagnostics, to detect possible radiation exposure. The devices have nanoporous membranes printed with arrays of reagents arranged in rows. When the assessments are completed, the spots in the array change color, providing visual results within minutes.

Zenhausern and his team designed the VeriFAST platform to assess a full range of biomarkers, from proteins to genes. While the Inspiration4 mission will take less than a week to complete, it will provide a unique opportunity to apply the VeriFAST platform to help researchers study the molecular and physiological levels in the human body under extreme zero-gravity conditions. One of the biomarkers measured by VeriFAST is the C-reactive protein. The level of that protein in blood has long been used as a diagnostic marker of inflammatory response, including the response occurring in cancer. This biomedical data will offer valuable insights and help inform the measures necessary to protect future astronaut crews in orbit during longer missions.

Zero gravity, confinement and radiation experienced during space flight can have significant health consequences. Space radiation is risky to the human body, potentially causing damage to the DNA in cells. Radiation exposure may occur during deep-space missions and can increase the risk of long-term health consequences such as cancer. Adverse effects to the central nervous and cardiovascular systems may also occur.  It is difficult to determine remotely the health consequences on the tissues and cells of crew members.

“As civilian space travel becomes more frequent and accessible, the university is well positioned to lead in the important, emerging field of aerospace biomedicine,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, the university’s senior vice president for research and innovation. “The new knowledge Dr. Zenhausern’s group will create through SpaceX Inspiration4 is really the tip of the iceberg toward a better understanding of in-flight health.”

The Translational Research Institute for Space Health, known as TRISH, funded the project, which is part of a research complement to be conducted during the multi-day journey. The Inspiration4 crew, commanded by Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, will contribute to the space biomedical community by participating in important scientific research during the mission. Inspiration4’s goal is to inspire humanity and to advance cancer research through collaboration with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

If the VeriFAST platform is validated by the Inspiration4 crew, it could provide a valuable blood and saliva analysis system to support the health and performance of future space crews. The biomedical samples collected during the Inspiration4 mission will become part of a biobank used for future collaborations by research teams at SpaceX, TRISH and the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

“Innovation and problem solving to improve health are at the core of what we do. That impact has been felt in Arizona, around the world and now for those in space,” said Dr. Guy Reed, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. “This collaboration with TRISH, SpaceX and the ANBM Center creates synergies that will help to protect humans against radiation injury and other hazards that they encounter during space travel. It will fuel the development of new therapies and preventive strategies for crew members and patients here on Earth and beyond.”

A version of this article originally appeared on the College of Medicine – Phoenix website: https://phoenixmed.arizona.edu/spacex



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UArizona Research Project to Monitor Health of SpaceX Inspiration4 Crew Members During Mission


College Researchers Designed Novel Molecular Diagnostics Technology to Monitor the Health of Four Crew Members during First All-Civilian Mission to Orbit

SpaceX Inspiration4 LogoSpace flight is not just for astronauts and rocket scientists anymore. SpaceX Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission, will make the dream of orbiting the Earth come true for a crew of civilians September 15. Researchers with the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, led by Frederic Zenhausern, PhD, MBA, will provide the first in-flight testing of multiple biomarkers of stress, inflammation and immunity measured in a zero gravity environment to monitor the health of the four-member crew.

The essential task of protecting humans from exposure to these hazards is critical to the prospect of future deep space exploration. Dr. Zenhausern and his team developed a novel technology that will monitor crew members’ response to measure stress, inflammation and immune levels during space flight through a blood droplet from a simple fingerstick or a saliva sample.

“Our development of advanced molecular diagnostics for multi-purpose indications of emerging infectious diseases, health performance or risks of environmental exposure must benefit all populations where possible,” said Dr. Zenhausern, director of the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine. “This Inspiration4 mission shares some operational requirements similar to a consumer health product to be performed at home or in low resources settings — which must be easy to use, minimally invasive, rapid and low cost.”

The VIFAS Technology
The VIFAS Technology

The Vertical Integrated Flow Assay System (VIFAS) technology uses blood or saliva deposited onto a test strip to perform rapid assessments of radiobiological effects on humans. The system provides precise measurements, including multiplex molecular diagnostics, to possible radiation exposure. The test strips have nanoporous membranes printed with arrays of reagents arranged in rows. When the assessments are completed, the spots in the array change color providing visual results within minutes.

Zenhausern and his team designed the VIFAS technology to assess a full range of biomarkers, from proteins to genes. While the Inspiration4 mission will take less than a week to complete, it will provide a unique opportunity to apply the VIFAS technology to help researchers study the molecular and physiological levels in the human body under extreme zero gravity conditions. This biomedical data will offer valuable insights and help inform the measures necessary to protect future astronaut crews in orbit during longer missions. 

Zero gravity and radiation experienced during space flight can have significant health consequences. Space radiation is risky to the human body, potentially causing damage to the DNA in cells. Radiation exposure may occur during deep-space missions and can increase the risk of long-term health consequences, such as cancer. Adverse effects to the central nervous and cardiovascular systems may also occur. It is difficult to determine remotely the health consequences on the tissues and cells of crew members.

Ali Fattahi, PhD, Works with the VIFAS Technology
Ali Fattahi, PhD, Works with the VIFAS Technology

“As civilian space travel becomes more frequent and accessible, the university is well positioned to lead in the important, emerging field of aerospace biomedicine,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, PhD, the university’s senior vice president for Research and Innovation. “The new knowledge Dr. Zenhausern’s group will create through SpaceX Inspiration4 is really the tip of the iceberg toward a better understanding of in-flight health.”

The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) funded the project, which is part of a research complement to be conducted during the multi-day journey. The Inspiration4 crew, commanded by Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, will contribute to the space biomedical community by participating in important scientific research during the mission.

If the VIFAS platform is validated by the Inspiration4 crew, it could provide a valuable blood and saliva analysis system to support the health and performance of future space crews. The biomedical samples collected during the Inspiration4 mission will become part of a biobank used for future collaborations by research teams at SpaceX, TRISH and the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

“Innovation and problem-solving to improve health are at the core of what we do. That impact has been felt in Arizona, around the world and now for those in space,” said Guy Reed, MD, MS, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. “This collaboration with TRISH, SpaceX and the Center for ANBM creates synergies that will help to protect humans against radiation injury and other hazards that they encounter during space travel. It will fuel the development of new therapies and preventive strategies for crew members and patients here on Earth and beyond.”



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Home security tip: How to monitor gun safes, medicine cabinets, workshops and more


Smart home products aren’t new to the market, but they are becoming much more affordable ways to make your daily life safer and easier.

If you’re new to the smart home game, start with a must for keeping your home protected 24/7, SimpliSafe. Those old-school security companies — the ones that send a pushy salesperson to your door with a 3-year contract and installers — are so 20 years ago.

It’s easy to choose your system online and set it up yourself in under an hour. But what should you make sure to add to your cart? We’ll show you five sensors you need to keep your home protected from intruders, fires, water damage and more.

Once you’re ready to start shopping, head to SimpliSafeKim.com to get a free HD security camera, free shipping and a 60-day money back guarantee.

1. Entry sensor on a medicine cabinet

Entry sensors are a no-brainer on doors and windows, but what about other places you don’t want anyone else accessing?

Kim once had an incident where medication was taken from her mother’s medicine cabinet without her knowledge by someone working in her home. That’s why she added a SimpliSafe sensor to it, so she never has to worry about someone snooping and stealing again.

At some point in your life, you or someone you live with is likely to be prescribed a controlled medication. Simply placing a sensor on the door to your medication cabinet will allow you to get alerts sent to your phone whenever the cabinet is opened.

2. Water sensor

What’s the worst feeling in the world? Getting a call that your home flooded, or even worse, returning after hours of water pouring into your home.

What if — day or night, home or away — you could be alerted immediately if water started accumulating where it shouldn’t? With a water sensor, you can do just that. The sensor will send off an alert whenever it comes into contact with water, allowing you to respond quickly and avoid extensive, costly damage.

3. Entry sensors on safes and weapon cabinets

As we said earlier, entry sensors can do a lot more than protect the actual physical entrances to your home. Anything you use to store weapons, important documents or money could use more protection.

Worried your kids might find their way into a locked cabinet? Place a sensor on the cabinet and receive alerts whenever it is opened. Concerned about an intruder stealing your valuables? Add a sensor.

4. Freeze sensor

If you live in a colder climate, you know the stress of worrying over your pipes when winter hits. SimpliSafe’s freeze sensors detect when your home’s internal temperate drops below 41°F. Placing the sensor in the basement or as close to the pipes as possible will give the most accurate reading. This one is a must if you live in certain parts of the country.

5. Glassbreak sensor

A glassbreak sensor is just what it sounds like: It detects the unique sound of breaking glass that signals someone is trying to enter your home.

If you live in a home with many windows, a glass door or multiple floors where you may not hear glass breaking in some locations, consider placing a glassbreak sensor in your home. Glassbreak sensors are particularly effective in multi-story homes where sound may not travel well between floors.

So, what should you order? We love all of these options. The right mix depends on your needs, your home, your family and what you need to feel safe. Our advice? There’s no such thing as “too safe.” Every one of these sensors goes a long way in protecting your home.

Head to SimpliSafeKim.com and get a FREE HD security camera, free shipping and a 60-day money back guarantee.





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