Study of the Effects of Spaceflight Factors on Bacteriophages (Bacteriophage) - 03.07.18

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Science Objectives for Everyone
The Study of the Effects of Spaceflight Factors on Bacterophages (Bakteriofag) investigation examines the therapeutic, diagnostic, and genetic properties of bacteriophages to discover possible changes in the physical, chemical, morphological, and genetic properties of therapeutic and diagnostic bacteriophages exposed to microgravity.
Science Results for Everyone
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The following content was provided by S. Yu. Pchelintsev, V G. Popov, G. Y. Scherbakov, M.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
S. Yu. Pchelintsev, Biopreparat, Russia
V G. Popov, Russia
G. Y. Scherbakov, M.D., Biopreparat, Russia

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Sponsoring Space Agency
Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos)

Sponsoring Organization
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Research Benefits
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ISS Expedition Duration
October 2009 - September 2010

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
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Experiment Description

Research Overview
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Space Applications
During the long-term presence of crewmembers in space station conditions, human microflora infiltrates the structure, equipment, and materials which cause conditions similar to the development of hospital based infections. On Earth, the battle with these infections is fought using harsh disinfectants that cannot be used in spaceflight conditions. In these conditions, bacteriophage preparations turn out to be indispensable; the treatment with them may be similar to wet cleaning, and after inactivation of microorganisms, the bacteriophages themselves die. Such specific sterilizing preparations also help to eliminate dispersed microorganisms destroying materials and equipment. Therefore, during long-term autonomous spaceflight conditions, having such preparations on board the vehicle is promising.

Earth Applications
Bacteriophages are used to prevent and treat certain bacterial infections. Due to their specific lytic action on bacteria, they are an alternative to antibiotics. They are strictly specific, and live in the human body in the presence of specific bacterial flora, then due to the absence of a substrate, they die and the body self-cleans.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
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Decadal Survey Recommendations

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Results/More Information

Of the lyophilically dried bacteriophages exposed on the ISS one, Staphylococcus aureus bacteriophage exhibited increased lytic activity. Data indicated that in the lyophilically dried forms of bacteriophages exposed to space factors, the structure of particles was unchanged and the heads of the phage particles contain DNA. The biological properties of the bacteriophages (morphology of negative colonies, spectrum of lytic action, and stability under the influence of fluctuating pH levels) do not change relative to initial data. All studied bacteriophages retained their viability and biological activity after being in space for 3 months. However, it was noted that the concentration of bacteriophages was an order of magnitude lower than the initial concentration.

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Related Websites
Energia - Science Research on the ISS Russian Segment

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