TAMPA, Fla. — Drs. Patsy McDonald and Derek Duckett, Moffitt Cancer Center faculty members and founders of Cadw Therapeutics, are sending a scientific experiment to space. The self-contained experiment will blast off Wednesday, April 6, as a part of Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 1, the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station.

The experiment is a partnership between Cadw Therapeutics and SpacePharma, an Israeli company that has developed miniaturized lab systems that can work in the microgravity of space. The automated lab in a box will use SpacePharma’s “lab-on-a-chip” technology to perform cell-based experiments aboard the space station. The goal is to determine whether genomic damage experienced during space travel is linked to the silencing of a specific gene, beta-arrestin1.

Beta-arrestin1 has been found to play significant roles in chronic stress-induced DNA damage. Such DNA damage can have profound consequences on human health and is associated with the functional changes that accompany several human diseases, including cancer.

“Space flight has significant deleterious consequences on the human body,” said McDonald, associate member of the Cancer Physiology Department at Moffitt. “Understanding how to mitigate the negative health effects of microgravity, radiation and stress from space flight is essential for safe space exploration.”

The experiment will investigate whether the beta-arrestin1 signaling pathway is activated by microgravity and low orbit space flight, including mimicking cosmic radiation and stress, with the implication that selectively disrupting these signaling pathways will prevent or counteract the negative consequences of space flight-induced genomic damage. Validation will pave the way for future work on preventive measures.

“We’re hoping to use the information learned during this mission to develop pharmacologic interventions that could be used as a prophylactic to combat the harsh environment endured during space and long-haul flight,” said Duckett, chair of Moffitt’s Drug Discovery Department.

Financial support for the experiments has been provided through two grants from Space Florida’s Florida-Israel Innovation Partnership Program.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 52 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 7,500 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.4 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube

About Cadw Therapeutics
Founded by Drs. Patsy McDonald and Derek Duckett in 2016, Cadw Therapeutics is a life sciences research company whose primary mission is to develop novel therapeutics that prevent or abrogate the genomic damage that occurs as a consequence of chronic stress-related disorders.

###