SpaceX Dragon Delivers SpaceOMIX's Maleth-II Bioscience Research To The Space Station

SpaceX Dragon Delivers SpaceOMIX's Maleth-II Bioscience Research To The Space Station

SpaceX launched the 25th NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-25) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on July 14. A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket launched Dragon to orbit from NASA's Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex-39A at 8:44 p.m. ET. After a two-day journey, Dragon autonomously docked to the ISS Harmony module on Saturday, July 16 at 11:21 a.m. ET.

Dragon CRS-25 delivered over 5,800 lbs of cargo to the Space Station, including over 250 science research investigations, supplies, and hardware needed at the orbiting laboratory. An interesting science research that was delivered to the ISS Lab is SpaceOMIX's second bioscience mission called Maleth-II. The Maleth Program is led by Professor Joseph Borg, a molecular geneticist and biomedical laboratory scientist from the University of Malta in Europe. The country sent its first-ever mission to space (Maleth-I) last year aboard SpaceX's CRS-23 mission. This second mission aims to expand SpaceOMIX's research. Maleth-II will investigate human skin tissue samples from patients with diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) and the associated bacteria that occupy the infected wounds. The samples of human tissue and Yeast cells are contained inside a small 1.5U biocube [pictured above]. The research will shed more light on how human skin cells and bacteria interact which could lead to better treatments for people with diabetes who suffer from DFUs. The science cube is designed by ICE Cubes service, Space Applications Services, in Brussels, Belgium; a commercial partner of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Professor Joseph Borg (@joseph_borg_) shared some details about Maleth-II with TESMANIAN journalist Evelyn J. Arevalo (@JaneidyEve). When SpaceX Dragon returns cargo to Earth in around a month, they will rapidly investigate how microgravity affected the cells. "The samples will be genetically profiled using state-of-the-art tools that read through the entire DNA sequence of all microorganisms present in the DFUs," said Professor Borg, "The data will then be correlated with antibiotic resistance of the same bacteria encountered here on Earth and any other important differences that space environment inflicts on these bacteria. The findings can have important clinical implications on the management and follow-up of patients inflicted with DFUs and their treatment may be improved or expedited."

"SpaceOMIX will continue proudly collaborating with leading institutions and organizations to further their mission and work on some of humanity’s most important questions and aspirations to date," said Professor Borg, "With their second mission to the ISS, the team now looks to 2023 for their third and final mission under the Maleth Program, and will move on to the next missions under a new program yet to be disclosed," he shared. "A number of high-level meetings are currently taking place to ensure that the missions under the new program will deliver on both the breakthrough and undertakings that they intend to do."

Professor Borg also shared that these missions could help him and his team facilitate more ambitious missions to space. "SpaceOMIX is very unique in this emergent sector of genome biology and space science in the sense that the core group is building its way in having its own mission control centre to monitor and follow remote communications with their payloads, their own genetic engineering laboratory for preparation of payload samples, and their own mechanical, as well as electrical space engineers that will design the internal mechanics of the payload themselves," said Borg. 

The Maleth Project is funded by the Ministries for Foreign and European Affairs, as well as the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Research and Innovation under the Ministry for Education in the country of Malta. The mission is being facilitated by the University of Malta Research Innovation, Development Trust (RIDT). The payload is also being supported by MeDirect – Malta’s first digital Bank and Singleron Biotechnologies. 

Professor Joseph Borg next to SpaceOMIX team members with an exact replica of the ICE Cubes framework present in the Columbus module on the ISS. Source: ICE Cubes Service / Space Applications Services / SpaceOMIX


Dragon heading to the Space Station. / Image Source: NASA


About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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