Press Release

Two Canadian Science Projects Onboard Space Shuttle Columbia

By SpaceRef Editor
January 16, 2003
Filed under , ,
Two Canadian Science Projects Onboard Space Shuttle Columbia

Saint-Hubert, Quebec, January 16, 2003 – Launched today from the Kennedy
Space Center in Florida, Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) will spend 16 days
in orbit to allow astronauts to perform some 100 science experiments in
microgravity on behalf of researchers from around the world. Canadian
scientists are flying two research projects involving several experiments
onboard Columbia. These experiments could ultimately have applications in
the health sector.

The OSTEO-2 experiments will further our understanding of bone loss during
spaceflight. Three science teams have been selected for this project: two
represent the Canadian academic community and the third is a joint venture
between the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and two industrial partners.

  • Dr. Leticia G. Rao, Principal Investigator, and Dr. Tim Murray, co-investigator,
    both of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, lead a team investigating the use
    of hormones to increase bone formation in microgravity.
  • Another team, led by Dr. Reginald M. Gorczynski of the University
    Health Network (UHN), Toronto, will investigate how disturbances in
    sleep and immune functions may influence bone metabolism.
  • Finally, Mr. Dennis R. Sindrey of Millenium Biologix,
    together with Dr. Bradford T. Brinton of NPS Pharmaceuticals, will build
    on the previous OSTEO-1 experiment to characterize and identify bone gene
    regulation patterns in microgravity.
  • Furthermore, Dr. Heersche from the University of Toronto will look
    at how microgravity affects the differentiation of cells involved in
    bone metabolism and examine the observation that in bone, fat cell
    differentiation is inversely proportional to bone cell

The other Canadian research project onboard STS-107 involves protein
crystal growth. Earth-based laboratories have a hard time growing large or
perfect protein crystals. The size and quality of proteins crystallized
in space are usually much better because gravity-induced effects such as
sedimentation and convection do not impair their growth. This makes
space-grown protein crystals much easier and more interesting to study.
Scientists study the architecture of crystallized proteins to understand
how their molecules interact. A precise knowledge of protein structures
helps design more efficient medication, with fewer side effects. Protein
crystal growth has applications in the fight against cancer and diabetes,
as well as in research to control antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The
principal investigators of this research project are Dr. Lin, UniversitÈ
Laval; Dr. Sygusch, UniversitÈ de MontrÈal; Dr. Christendat, University
of Toronto; Dr. Delbaere, University of Saskatchewan; and Dr. Cygler,
Biotechnology Research Institute.


For more information, contact:

Monique Billette

Senior Media Relations Officer

Canadian Space Agency

Telephone: (450) 926-4370


Mission STS-107

SpaceRef staff editor.