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Interactive video lesson plan for: Benefits for Humanity: Hope Crystalizes

Activity overview:

Description: In one of many direct Earth applications of International Space Station research, the newest
Benefits for Humanity video in the Benefits series highlights how high quality crystals grown in microgravity lead to new therapeutics for disease. Learn how the investigation of protein crystals in space is helping treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), an incurable genetic disorder affecting the muscles with onset usually in early childhood and primarily in young males.

Since 2003, scientists with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have conducted protein crystal growth investigations on the space station, including proteins associated with DMD. Crystals grown on Earth are impacted by gravity, which may affect the way the molecules align on the surface of the crystal. Researchers have discovered that growing crystals aboard the space station allows for slower growth and higher quality crystals. Having a better understanding of the protein’s shape enabled researchers to design a drug that fits specifically into a location on the protein associated with DMD. The research team estimates that the drug may be able to slow the progression of DMD by half.

With many other protein crystal growth studies occurring or planned aboard the space station, many thousands of other proteins’ structures could be determined. This is yet another way the orbiting laboratory is enabling research Off the Earth, For the Earth.

Tagged under: Space,Laboratory,Protein,Crystal,Growth,Station,NASA,Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,DMD,JAXA,Yoshihiro Urade,Science,Microgravity,Benefits

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