21 June 2013

Space Bioreactor

Novosibirsk scientists create a reactor for growing organs in space

Elena Zhukova, RIA NovostiNovosibirsk scientists are developing a reactor in which, in zero gravity, it will be possible to create biological and chemical materials with new properties, including organs; preliminary tests on a prototype showed that the process can be implemented in space, Yuri Ramazanov, director of the Center for Vortex Technologies LLC, told RIA Novosti.

According to Ramazanov, the reactor for conducting biotechnological processes in microgravity operates on the tornado principle. Stem cells or microparticles are mixed inside the installation by an air vortex – thus, biological and other objects can be created. Weightlessness conditions allow tissues and organs to grow evenly in all directions.

"In the absence of gravity, the water turns into a ball with a bubble in the middle, and you can't mix it in any way. We assume that our reactor will be able to mix liquids in space. The test of an experimental prototype on earth showed that the process can be implemented in space," Ramazanov said.

He noted that at the moment an apparatus is being created for testing at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in the Il-76 flying laboratory, where a state of weightlessness is being created. If a device is created that mixes liquid in space, then it will be possible to create new biological objects and materials, including tissues and organs, as well as recycle waste at space stations.

"Biological and chemical processes take place in the reactor, and in space it is possible to obtain materials that cannot be obtained on Earth – fabrics, polymers, crystals. Or, for example, it's hot on the ISS, sweat is wiped off with napkins, if they are put into circulation, then cellulose can be converted into polysaccharide, then into glucose. This is done for a very long time, but it happens faster in the reactor," Ramazanov said.

According to him, the reactor will be tested in the second half of 2013. "The first tests will show whether we are on the right path. They will be short-lived. After landing the plane, it will become clear how the liquid is mixed. If everything is in order, we will refine the device, look for an investor, while JSC Tatkhiminvest-Holding has financed 1 million rubles," Ramazanov said.

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