MIPRONS and Università Cattolica together for RIGESTA space biology project


A brand new research project co-financed and hosted in MIPRONS Laboratory to study the effects of micro-gravity and vacuum on extra-cellular fluids to discover new treatments for diseases of the musculoskeletal system

“Studio della RIGenerazione tissutale in condizioni ESTreme: ruolo della microgravità e della pressione sull’omeostasi delle nicchie STAminali (RIGESTA)”: this is the title of the research project, born from an intuition of Professor Wanda Lattanzi and Eng. Angelo Minotti, respectively associate of Applied Biology at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Catholic University and Administrator of MIPRONS srl, a start-up developing an innovative aerospace propulsion system.

This Ph.D merges different disciplines, only apparently distant. The aim is to define new paradigms and develop new approaches to understand hitherto unexplored aspects of tissue and systemic pathophysiology.

In this context, space conditions (vacuum and micro-gravity) are used not only to contrast the organic alterations which astronauts undergo during prolonged space expeditions (such as human settlement on other celestial bodies like Moon in the immediate future and Mars in the coming decades) but to work as an accelerator of “terrestrial diseases” such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia, “altered mechanotransduction” diseases (eg patients bedridden for chronic diseases), degenerative diseases, trauma with tissue loss.

The project, led by Dr. Domiziano Dario Tosi, taking advantage of the vacuum chamber made available by MIPRONS, aims to acquire skills to conduct necessary extra-cellular fluid dynamics studies and tests in the vacuum chamber and microgravity conditions.

The industrial doctorate project is funded by MIPRONS srl and the Lazio Region, as part of the “Intervention to strengthen research and innovation in Lazio – incentives for doctorates aimed to innovation in businesses and the PA” program, with the ‘goal of including the doctoral student in the MIPRONS company organization chart at the end of the same.

“We will study human bone-derived cells by simulating the microarchitecture of body tissues in an in vitro system based on 3D cultured human cells. In addition, we will deepen the investigations by means of numerical fluid dynamics studies, tests in a vacuum chamber and in microgravity conditions “, explain Professor Lattanzi and Eng. Minotti.
“With the beginning of a new era of space exploration – continue Professor Lattanzi and Eng. Minotti – international space agencies are promoting research aimed to achieving a prolonged stay of human beings in atmospheres other than that existing on Earth, in preparation for the first manned missions to Mars. Many of the current limits of the long-term stay of astronauts in space are represented by the effects, largely still unknown, that this can have on the biology of the human body, and how its tissues can adapt to them ”.

“The interaction and contamination between biomedical research and aerospace engineering play an important role in the development of artificial environments in which space explorers can find answers to their vital and operational needs, creating the field of innovative research and frontier identified in “space biology”. “It is also important to underline that the knowledge deriving from space biology studies can be translated into the understanding of disease mechanisms and the development of innovative biotechnologies for clinical applications, capable of facing the challenges of modern medicine.

The possibility of studying the biology of cells and tissues in extreme environmental conditions simulated using aerospace engineering methodologies and technologies, offers indeed unique opportunities to understand hitherto unexplored aspects of tissue and systemic pathophysiology, thus achieving the objectives of personalized medicine on the specific needs of the individual and his lifestyle “, add Lattanzi and Minotti.

The project will be presented in more detail during the “NSE-New Space Economy – European Expoforum” event, promoted by the Fiera di Roma and the Fondazione Amaldi, on 1-3 December.