IIT Madras joins hands with NASA to study pathogens in international space station

Understanding the microbial landscape aboard the ISS is important for assessing the impact of these microorganisms on astronaut well-being.
Understanding the microbial landscape aboard the ISS is important for assessing the impact of these microorganisms on astronaut well-being.
Understanding the microbial landscape aboard the ISS is important for assessing the impact of these microorganisms on astronaut well-being.Photo | Express

CHENNAI: Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) along with researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are conducting a study on multidrug-resistant pathogens on the International Space Station (ISS).

This study is expected to shed light on key factors in maintaining astronauts’ health in space mission programmes and patients’ health in facilities like intensive care units on Earth.

As per a statement from IIT Madras, the researchers conducted a comprehensive study to understand the genomic, functional, and metabolic enhancements observed in multidrug-resistant pathogens with a particular focus on Enterobacter bugandensis, a prevalent nosocomial pathogen found on surfaces within the ISS.

Astronauts operating in altered immune conditions with limited access to traditional medical facilities face unique health challenges during space missions. Understanding the microbial landscape aboard the ISS is important for assessing the impact of these microorganisms on astronaut well-being.

The current study emphasises the critical need to investigate the pathogenic potential of microorganisms in space environments to safeguard astronaut health and mitigate the risks associated with opportunistic pathogens, the statement said, adding that the findings will also have applications in controlled settings on Earth, including hospital intensive care units and surgical theatres, where multidrug-resistant pathogens pose significant challenges to patient care.

The research team identified detailed genomic features and potential antimicrobial resistance mechanisms within E bugandensis strains isolated from various locations within the ISS. By mapping the prevalence and distribution of E bugandensis over time, the study provides valuable insights into its persistence, succession, and potential colonization patterns in space.

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