An Israeli team that thinks near-zero gravity may affect antibiotic resistance is to launch a micro satellite lab into space this week.
Research teams from Sheba Medical Center, the Technion and Hebrew University will watch as their miniature laboratory launches into space aboard an Arianespace Vega rocket from French Guiana.
The researchers are hoping to test their hypothesis that the near-zero gravity in space can affect the acquisition of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which has been described as “a ticking time bomb”.
The experiment, which is being run in conjunction with the European Space Agency, Israel Space Agency and Italian Space Agency, has had Israeli government funding.
According to the World Health Organisation, bacterial resistance to antibiotics already causes 700,000 deaths every year, and that number could rise to ten million by 2050 if trends continue.
Professor Ohad Gal-Mor, director of the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory at Sheba, said antibiotics are overused and misused of antibiotics around the world, with patients demanding a “quick fix” of time-starved doctors.
“We already have preliminary data suggesting that microgravity significantly affects antibiotic resistance acquisition in bacteria, from experiments on the ground using a special device that mimics microgravity to some extent,” said Gal-Mor.
“Now we will be able to repeat these results in ‘real’ microgravity conditions. It will help us to develop new treatments and approaches to reduce antibiotic resistance acquisition by bacteria.”