Two Cambridge biotech firms are set to send their science experiments to the International Space Station (ISS) after winning a contest, which promised its winners a slot and financial support for a future cargo mission to space. Gov. Charlie Baker and officials from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announced the winners on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 7 at the annual ISS Research and Development Conference at the Marriott Copley Place.
The companies that will share the $500,000 and up to $7.4 million prize are Nanobiosym, Inc. and Zaiput Flow Technologies. The science experiments presented by these companies will be prepared for its flight to the ISS and will undergo a rare opportunity of being tested in the ISS's US National Laboratory, where there is zero gravity.
Nanobiosym, Inc. will be conducting an experiment that aims to analyze bacterial growth in zero gravity. According to the researchers, this will enable them to enhance the development of antibiotics, which is beneficial for the entire mankind, says Dr. Anita Goel, the company's chairman and CEO. The company will take advantage of the microgravity environment in the ISS to impel the Precision Medicine transformation in the planet, she adds. Specifically, the company will determine future superbugs and subsequently analyze how infections will mutate. As bugs modify more swiftly when there is low amounts of gravity, sending in their experiment to the ISS will indeed help them develop better medicines.
Startup company, Zaiput Flow Technologies, will test one of its devices called "microfluidic liquid-liquid separator," which is used to create chemicals. Being able to expose the device to a zero-gravity environment could enhance its efficiency and transform the field of chemistry.
"This opportunity will allow us to bring our cutting edge liquid-liquid separation technology a step further while advancing flow chemistry and the environmental, drug development and manufacturing benefits associated with it," says Dr. Andrea Adamo, the company CEO.
The two companies attest to the advanced modernizations and research opportunities that are said to be available in Boston and the entire commonwealth, says Barker. For him, it is great that the ISS recognize these materials as a valuable avenue to play.
The announcement of the winners came after the SpaceX cargo mission failed and exploded, destroying about 50 science experiments developed by middle-school and high-school students. However, the researchers are not discouraged, says Abby Dickes, spokesperson of NanoRacks, which is responsible for transporting experiments to the ISS.
"This is part of the business," she states. "Everyone knows this is part of the risk."