Israeli Space Pharma company, joined by Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, are making history as one of the world’s first hospitals to launch a nano-satellite into space.
This special project, a collaboration between the Israeli Space Agency in the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Italian Space Agency is a significant breakthrough not only in the field of civilian space but also in the field of medicine.
SpacePharma is a company focused on using micro-gravity for research and development participating in this medical experiment in space.
Sheba will test on this space mission its theory that microgravity in space reduces antibiotic resistance acquisition, that will hopefully help solve the worsening global problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
The satellite, carrying a tiny laboratory in which four medical scientific experiments to test drug resistance will be conducted under conditions of micro-gravity.
The mission was launched by Ariane-Space on the Flight VV16 from the Spaceport in French Guyana, South America and reached its destination in space around 4:51 on Thursday morning.
The tiny laboratory, which is the size of a shoe box and weighs 2.3 kg, will carry a total of 53 micro- and nano-satellites from 13 different countries, covering Earth observation, telecommunications, science, technology and education.
The director of the Israeli Space Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology, Avi Blasberger, explained that the satellite is expected to give its first signals as those involved remains high in anticipation of positive signals.
Such experiments are usually performed by astronauts, hence the importance of launching, Blasberger explained, adding that Space Pharma is currently the only commercial company, except for NASA, with a space research laboratory.
The launch will include four experiments in the fields of medicine, biology and chemistry, with each study being led by an Israeli and an Italian researcher.
The Israeli researchers will come from either the Technion, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem or Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
The reason the satellite went into space in the first place is that space is an optimal environment for conducting biological and chemical experiments, the Ministry of Science explained, because under the special environmental conditions there, the bacteria develop rapid resistance to the drug.
The founder SpacePharma, said that all the experiments will be completed in a two-month period according to the estimations.
Either way, the results will arrive at the center in Switzerland, and from there they will be routed to the various institutions. The researchers will be able to control experiments that are performed using a computer or through applications.
The success of this test has the potential to reverse the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance responsible for the death of 700,000 people annually worldwide.
According to Prof. Ohad Gal-Mor, Head of the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory at Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer, data suggests that there is a significant overuse and misuse of antibiotics clinically, and even more so in agriculture.
The lack of regulation on veterinary and agricultural use of antibiotics is one of the major concerns.
A 2019 United Nations report pointed out the urgent need for an effective solution to that problem, suggesting that globally, 10 million people may lose their lives by 2050 due to resistance to antibiotics.
Moreover, the reported overuse of antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic has further contributed to the mounting resistance to antibiotics on a global scale. This resistance could pose a more concerning threat in the long-run than the Corona-virus itself.
Jerusalem Post / ABC Flash Point Medical News 2020.