National Laboratory Pathfinder - Vaccine - Salmonella (NLP-Vaccine-Salmonella) - 11.22.16
National Laboratory Pathfinder - Vaccine - Salmonella (NLP-Vaccine-Salmonella) investigation uses microgravity to examine Salmonella, a pathogenic (disease-causing) organism, to develop a potential vaccine for the prevention of infection on Earth and in microgravity. Science Results for Everyone
This is sick research. Salmonella got slightly better at killing round worms in space, but its toxicity appeared the same once back on Earth. Virulence refers to a germ’s ability to cause sickness, which greatly depends on both the strength of the bug and the host. Round worms don't have an immune system like humans but share similar immune defense characteristics with higher organisms, and after brief exposure to a bacteria, worms do survive subsequent exposure that would otherwise prove lethal, a phenomenon referred to as conditioning. This kind of insight about how bacteria infects their host in space contributes to developing vaccines and therapeutics on Earth. Experiment Details
Timothy G. Hammond, M.B.B.S., Durham Veterans' Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC, United States
BioServe Space Technologies, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Laboratory (NL)
ISS Expedition Duration
October 2007 - October 2009; March 2010 - September 2010; March 2011 - September 2011
The NLP-Vaccine series of investigations began on STS-123/1JA during ISS Expedition 16.
- Salmonella strains of bacteria are the most common cause of food poisoning world-wide, and a major cause of childhood death worldwide. In the United States, illnesses caused by Salmonella cost billions of dollars annually. There is currently no vaccine available for the common forms of salmonella gastroenteritis.
- National Laboratory Pathfinder - Vaccine - Salmonella (NLP-Vaccine-Salmonella) uses a unique and simple model of infection. The Salmonella is grown in space under conditions known to effect bacterial potency. The strains identified as the least potent following microgravity exposure are selected as candidates for use in vaccine development on Earth.
- Salmonella and Caenorhabditis elegans worms are launched separated, then serially mixed, grown and fixed in flight. Once the experiment is completed on orbit and returned to Earth, analysis of virulence (infection potential) is completed by the investigator.
The 2005 NASA Authorization Act designated a portion of the International Space Station (ISS) as a National Laboratory. To fulfill that mandate, NASA is providing an opportunity for non-governmental entities to conduct research and development and potentially industrial processing on board the ISS. These opportunities aboard the ISS are considered National Lab Pathfinder (NLP) missions. These NLP missions launch to the ISS on each available shuttle mission.
National Laboratory Pathfinder - Vaccine - Salmonella (NLP-Vaccine-Salmonella) takes advantage of knowledge gained in previous space flight studies of microorganisms. This investigation grows several species of Salmonella, including Salmonella enteriditis, Salmonella enterica and Salmonella typhirium, in microgravity to affect the virulence (infection potential). Salmonella is a rod-shaped, flagellated, aerobic, gram-negative bacterium. Salmonella strains are the most common cause of food poisoning world-wide, and a major cause of childhood death worldwide. In the United States, illnesses caused by Salmonella cost billions of dollars annually. There is currently no vaccine available for the most common forms of salmonella gastroenteritis caused by these pathogens.
Each flight opportunity of this investigation provides additional insight about the bacteria and the changes that are occurring as they grow in space. The knowledge is applied to streamline and accelerate the development of vaccines and therapeutics on Earth.
The Salmonella microbes and the Caenorhabditis elegans worms are launched separated and serially mixed, grown and fixed in flight. Once the experiment is completed on orbit and returned to Earth, analysis of virulence is completed by the investigator.
NLP-Vaccine-Salmonella flies on the Space Shuttle to the ISS as NLP-Vaccine-1A, NLP-Vaccine-1B, NLP-Vaccine-2, NLP-Vaccine-5 and NLP-Vaccine-9.
Results from this experiment may help scientists more clearly understand measures that should be taken to reduce the risk of infection and contraction of disease while in space.
There is currently no vaccine available for the strains of organisms being examined by the NLP-Vaccine series of investigations. This research may help develop vaccines against life threatening organisms.
Operational Requirements and Protocols
This payload is conducted under ambient temperature conditions and does not require image or data download.
The research is contained in the Fluid Processing Apparatus (FPA). In order to activate the samples, the crew turns a hand crank that has been inserted onto the top of the GAP which contains the FPAs. Once the samples are activated for a predetermined length of time, the crew again turns the hand crank on top of the GAPs to terminate the experiment. The terminated samples are returned to Earth via the shuttle.
Decadal Survey Recommendations
Information Pending^ back to top
Simultaneous studies were performed in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS), simulated microgravity with a clinorotation device, and normal ground controls to evaluate the effects of microgravity on the ability of Salmonella bacteria to kill nematodes (microscopic round worms found naturally in soil) at the larval and adult stages. The differences in growth between Salmonella flown in space and ground-based aliquots were more than threefold, but when a more dilute nutrient broth was used, the growth of Salmonella in spaceflight is no longer greater than that of Salmonella in static ground cultures suggesting that the increased growth may be more an effect of available nutrient. Salmonella flown in space and returned to earth showed a decrease in virulence toward nematodes. When the virulence test was conducted during spaceflight, there was only a minimal change in the virulence of Salmonella toward the worms. Virulence is an interplay between the pathogen and the host, and both must be considered to understand changes in pathogenicity. Although microscopic round worms shares many cellular and molecular structures and control pathways with higher organisms, it does not have a cellular immune response nor the adaptive or secondary immune response that higher order organisms generate upon repeated exposure to the same microbe. Nonetheless, intestinal exposure of nematodes to the infectious fungus (Candida albicans) induces a highly microorganism-specific rapid host response involving 313 genes, many of which encode antimicrobial, secreted, or detoxification proteins. Furthermore, brief exposure to bacteria ‘‘immunizes’’ the worms to survive a subsequent exposure that would otherwise prove lethal, a phenomenon referred to as ‘‘conditioning.’’^ back to top
Hammond TG, Stodieck LS, Birdsall HH, Becker JL, Koenig PM, Hammond JS, Gunter MA, Allen PL. Effects of microgravity on the virulence of Salmonella toward Caenorhabditis elegans. New Space. 2013 September; 1(3): 123-131. DOI: 10.1089/space.2013.0011.
Ground Based Results Publications
Tenor JL, McCormick BA, Ausubel FM, Aballay A. Caenorhabditis elegans-based screen identifies Salmonella virulence factors required for conserved host-pathogen interactions. Current Biology. 2004; 14(11): 1018-1024. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.05.050. PMID: 15182677.
Sittka A, Pfeiffer V, Tedin K, Vogel J. The RNA chaperone Hfq is essential for the virulence of Salmonella typhimurium. Molecular Microbiology. 2007; 63(1): 193-217. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2006.05489.x. PMID: 17163975.
Wilson JW, Ott CM, Honer zu Bentrup K, Ramamurthy R, Quick L, Porwollik S, Cheng P, McClelland M, Tsaprailis G, Radabaugh T, Hunt A, Fernandez D, Richter E, Shah M, Kilcoyne M, Joshi L, Nelman-Gonzalez MA, Hing SM, Parra MP, Dumars PM, Norwood KL, Devich J, Bober R, Ruggles AD, Goulart C, Rupert M, Stodieck LS, Stafford P, Catella LA, Schurr MJ, Buchanan K, Morici L, McCracken J, Allen PL, Baker-Coleman C, Hammond TG, Vogel J, Nelson R, Pierson DL, Stefanyshyn-Piper HM, Nickerson CA. Space flight alters bacterial gene expression and virulence and reveals a role for global regulator Hfq. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2007; 104(41): 16299-16304. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0707155104. PMID: 17901201.
BioServe Space Technologies
Media Advisory - NASA Studies Microbes on Space Shuttle Flight
Payoffs from ISS Research
VA Research Project on NASA Space Shuttle
NASA Image: S126E007561 - STS-126/ULF2 Mission Specialist Shane Kimbrough works with the Group Activation Pack (GAP) for a National Lab Pathfinder-Vaccine investigation on the orbiter Endeavour.
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Salmonella bacteria that have been cultured in a tetrathionate-enrichment broth, and stained using the direct fluorescent-antibody technique. Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Image ID - 6648.
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Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells. Image courtesy of Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and infectious Diseases.
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Salmonella, isolated from infected macrophages, mildly color-enhanced. Image courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
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