National Aeronautics and Space Administration Biological Specimen Repository (Repository) - 10.29.14

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery
ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Biological Specimen Repository (Repository) is a storage bank that is used to maintain biological specimens over extended periods of time and under well-controlled conditions. This repository supports scientific discovery that contributes to the fundamental knowledge in the area of human physiological changes and adaptation to a microgravity environment and provides unique opportunities to study longitudinal changes in human physiology spanning many missions. Samples from the International Space Station (ISS), including blood and urine, are collected, processed and archived during the preflight, in-flight and postflight phases of ISS missions. This investigation archives biosamples for use as a resource for future space flight related research.

Science Results for Everyone

This bank holds something more precious than money: biological specimens taken from dozens of ISS crew members over extended periods of time, before, during, and after space flight. NASA’s Biological Specimen Repository supports scientific discovery and contributes to greater knowledge of human physiological changes and adaptation to microgravity. Scientists withdraw samples to study changes in the human body spanning many missions. The bank also could enable analysis of currently unknown components or use of as-yet-undeveloped methods. Thirty-three ISS crewmembers have signed on to participate and 23 have already completed all the operational requirements.



The following content was provided by Kathleen A. McMonigal, M.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Experiment Details

OpNom Repository

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Kathleen A. McMonigal, M.D., Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
  • Reta K. Warren, Wyle Science, Technology and Engineering Group, Houston, TX, United States
  • Robert A. Pietrzyk, M.S, Wyle Science-Technology and Engineering Group, Houston, TX, United States

  • Developer(s)
    Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

    Research Benefits
    Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

    ISS Expedition Duration
    October 2007 - Ongoing

    Expeditions Assigned
    16,17,18,19/20,21/22,23/24,25/26,27/28,29/30,31/32,33/34,35/36,37/38,39/40,41/42,43/44,45/46

    Previous ISS Missions
    Repository began operations on ISS Expedition 16.

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • The International Space Station (ISS) provides a platform to investigate the effects of microgravity on human physiology prior to exploration class missions. The storage of crew member samples from many different ISS flights in a single repository is a valuable resource, whereby researchers study space flight related physiological changes in humans exposed to a microgravity environment.
    • The development of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Biological Specimen Repository allows for the collection, processing, storage, maintenance, and ethical distribution of biosamples to meet goals of scientific and programmatic relevance to the space program. Archiving of the biosamples provides future research opportunities including investigating patterns of physiological changes, analysis of components unknown at this time or analyses performed by new methodologies.

    Description
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Biological Specimen Repository (Repository) collects, stores and distributes samples to future investigators involved in space flight related human life sciences investigations. Blood samples are collected by venipuncture during the preflight, in-flight and postflight phases of this project. One plasma tube and one serum tube are collected from each participating crew member during each of the scheduled sessions. These sessions are scheduled once preflight, in-flight on flight days 15, 30, 60, 120 and within two weeks of landing and during two sessions scheduled for three to five days and 30 days following return to Earth.

    Void-by-void urine is collected and pooled into a 24-hour pool. Urine is collected during the same session times as scheduled for the blood draws. Biosample collections are coordinated with the existing medical requirements or research activities to minimize the number of needle sticks, urine collections and inconveniences to the crew member.

    All in-flight samples are stored at ultra low temperatures in the ISS Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer (MELFI) to maintain the highest quality and integrity possible. The overall project philosophy is to collect, process and store samples to ensure the widest possible range of analyses can be carried out on samples in the future.

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    Applications

    Space Applications
    The development of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Biological Specimen Repository allows for the collection, processing, storage, maintenance, and ethical distribution of biosamples to meet goals of scientific and programmatic relevance to the space program. Archiving of the biosamples provides future research opportunities including investigating patterns of physiological changes, analysis of components unknown at this time or analyses performed by new methodologies.

    Earth Applications
    Advances in space biomedical research often lead to medical advances to better serve terrestrial patients. Future research investigations that can help ensure the health and safety of crew members as well as enable exploration class missions, provide significant health benefits to patients on Earth.

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    Operations

    Operational Requirements
    All USOS ISS crew members are eligible to participate in this protocol. Sample sessions occur on flight days 15 (±5 days), 30, 60, 120, and within two weeks of landing (all ±14 days). Blood collection occurs following an overnight fast. Samples are returned to Earth for storage in the Repository.

    Operational Protocols
    The crew member draws blood and collects urine samples during the scheduled sessions. The blood samples are processed in the refrigerated centrifuge and then stored in the MELFI. Urine is collected void-by-void for 24 hours and samples are stored in the MELFI. Samples are identified via bar codes and the data are downlinked to Earth.

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    Results/More Information

    Repository operations are continuing and planned for future ISS missions. Sample distribution and analysis will be completed with selection of future research investigations.

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    Related Websites

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    Imagery

    image ISS refrigerated centrifuge used during blood processing of the Repository samples. Image courtesy of NASA, Johnson Space Center.
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    NASA Image: ISS037E010720 - NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, Expedition 37 flight engineer, prepares to insert samples into a Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) dewar tray in the International Space Station’s Destiny laboratory.
     

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    image Flight hardware used for blood collection of Repository samples. Image courtesy of NASA, Johnson Space Center.
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    image NASA Image: ISS022E091397 - View of Jeffrey Williams, Expedition 22 Commander, performing blood draw - Nutrition with repository, in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Pressurized Module (JPM).
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    NASA Image: ISS032e009080 - JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide, Expedition 32 flight engineer, finishes his blood draw and prepares to spin the blood tubes in the HRF Rack 2 Refrigerated Centrifuge in the International Space Station’s Columbus module.
     

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