Vaccine research heads to outer space

A program to develop a new salmonella vaccine has headed to the outer limits. The space shuttle Discovery is carrying a test strain of salmonella, and officials at Spacehab are using the experiment to highlight plans for an ambitious biotech space program.

A vaccine to protect people from salmonella poisoning has never been developed, at least in part because its virulence dissipates quickly. In microgravity, however, the potency of salmonella is tripled, giving researchers a chance to genetically engineer a strain that can be used in a vaccine. And Spacehab will advance its biotech work in a national laboratory on the International Space Station.

"You need a facility where you can study the effect of microgravity" on biological systems, said John Uri, NASA deputy manager of the ISS payloads office.

- read the story from AFP