Establishing a rapid, multiplexed diagnostic assay for use in space missions


Spaceflight has been consistently shown to have a disruptive effect on the immune system (Akiyama et al., 2020; Crucian et al., 2014; Garrett-Bakelman et al., 2019; Gu├ęguinou et al., 2009). Additionally, multiple latent viruses have been shown to reactivate in astronauts during Space Shuttle missions (Mehta et al., 2014). Furthermore, treatment of bacterial infections during extended missions could be compromised by potentially irreversible increases in spaceflight-associated antibiotic resistance (Taylor, 2015). Strategic Objectives 2.1, 2.2, and 4.3 of the 2018 NASA Strategic Plan emphasize the importance of establishing a comprehensive health care program for astronauts, which requires the mitigation of the many potential health risks that must be anticipated on exploration missions. However, the list of potential infectious agents is extensive and includes innumerable strains of rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, influenza viruses, and coronaviruses, as well as bacterial pathogens (Thomas & Bomar, 2020). Given the immune system inhibition and magnified virulence of pathogenic viruses and bacteria in spaceflight, it is all the more essential that a rapid, precise method of diagnosis is developed to facilitate targeted pharmacological intervention during space exploration missions.


Name: Trevor Abts, Undergraduate Student

Institution: University of Alaska Anchorage

Major: Natural Sciences

Mentor: Eric Bortz,

Award: Summer Apprenticeship

Funding Period: 2021