This past Sunday, using the same launch pad that sent Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon in the summer of ’69, NASA launched MRSA (below) to the International Space Station in order to conduct a novel experiment, as we explained last week.
The day before the launch, the lead scientist of the MRSA mission, Harvard’s Anita Goel, MD, PhD, in an interview with the CBC, told us why she selected MRSA, what she hopes the experiment will accomplish, and how she’s feeling on launch eve.
On MRSA: “MRSA … stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, a superbug, that’s a hospital-acquired infection that’s rampant in hospitals across North America and the world actually. And this bug rapidly mutates to become drug-resistant to current antibiotics which means it can easily spin out of control.”
On the experiment: “If we can use microgravity in space as an incubator to fast forward what these mutations of this superbug MRSA will look like in the future, we can build better drugs on Earth well before these mutant strains actually come, or emerge on the ground.”
Goel explained that the experiment is still proof of concept: namely, will the microgravity environment actually fast forward the growth rate of MRSA? And if so, how does it do that?
And how is she feeling one day before the big event? “It feels a little bit like what it might have been to be there on the first space launch when we had the first man mission to the moon … it feels like a moon shot.”