Press Release

Astrogenetix to Conduct MRSA Research on Shuttle Mission

By SpaceRef Editor
March 11, 2009
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Astrogenetix to Conduct MRSA Research on Shuttle Mission

Company Continues Development of Potential Therapeutics Using Microgravity

Astrogenetix, Inc., a subsidiary of the Astrotech Corporation (Nasdaq:SPAB), today announced it is conducting novel pharmaceutical research aboard Shuttle Discovery (STS-119) on NASA mission 15A scheduled to launch this evening and destined for the International Space Station (ISS). Astrogenetix is conducting a microgravity-based virulence survey study with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Listeria monocytogenes, Enterococcus faecalis and Candida albicans The research will utilize the unique environment of microgravity, which is known to impact virulence (infection potential) of microbes, to help discover potential targets for a vaccine or therapeutic agent to fight infections caused by these microbes.

“Discovery of therapeutic targets for MRSA and the other microbes on this survey flight represents the continued growth of our efforts to use microgravity to develop novel pharmaceutical agents,” explains Thomas B. Pickens III, Chairman of Astrogenetix. “The microgravity environment and its unique characteristics enable us to save lives on Earth by developing products in space.”

The work on MSRA builds on the company’s previous spaced-based research focusing on Salmonella, which resulted in the discovery of a vaccine target for that pathogen. MRSA is a type of bacteria that causes “staph” infections that are resistant to treatment with usual antibiotics. According to the Center for Disease Control, it is estimated that MRSA is responsible for more than 94,000 serious infections and 19,000 deaths annually

“Through expertise gained by sending more than 1,500 science experiments into space, we are positioned to commercialize products derived from microgravity discoveries,” added John Porter, Chief Executive Officer of Astrogenetix. “As ISS nears completion we are excited about the opportunity to utilize the ISS National Lab to develop a platform for drug discovery.”

The 2005 NASA Authorization Act designated a portion of the ISS as a National Laboratory, and NASA has provided an opportunity for non-governmental entities to conduct research and development and potentially industrial processing on board the ISS. Astrogenetix is one of the first commercial entities to hold a Space Act Agreement with NASA for use of the ISS National Lab.

“The science that Astrogenetix has been conducting for almost two years demonstrates the value of microgravity and NASA is very supportive of their progress,” said Mark Uhran, NASA Assistant Associate Administrator for the ISS. “This is the first of many high value products that we believe can be produced on the ISS and we encourage Astrogenetix to continue their pursuit of vaccines and therapeutics that are discovered in space for the benefit of human health on Earth.”

About Astrogenetix, Incorporated

Astrogenetix is the first commercial biotechnology company to use the unique microgravity environment of space to develop novel therapeutic products. A subsidiary of Astrotech Corporation, Astrogenetix was formed to commercialize biotechnology products processed in the unique environment of microgravity. The Company offers a turn-key platform for pre-flight sample preparation, flight hardware, mission planning and operations, crew training and certification processes needed within the highly regulated and complex environment of manned space flight.

About Astrotech Corporation

Astrotech is a commercial and entrepreneurial force in the space industry providing a full spectrum of products and services to both the government and private sectors. The Company offers spacecraft pre-launch processing facilities and services, production of valuable commercial products in space, development and extension of space-based products to the consumer market, space access and payload integration services program and engineering support ranging from development and manufacturing of flight hardware to large scale government project management.

The statements in this document may contain forward-looking statements that are made pursuant to the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements are subject to risks, trends, and uncertainties that could cause actual results to be materially different from the forward-looking statement. These factors include, but are not limited to, continued government support and funding for key space programs, product performance and market acceptance of products and services, as well as other risk factors and business considerations described in the company’s Securities & Exchange Commission filings including the annual report on Form 10-K. Any forward-looking statements in this document should be evaluated in light of these important risk factors. The Company assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

SpaceRef staff editor.