In biotechnology, particularly in cellular based systems, microgravity has attracted keen interest among nations with space programs. Early findings show opportunities in disease modeling, tissue engineering for research and transplantation, new biopharmaceuticals, vaccine development, propagation of stem cells, and drug testing.
Microgravity provides environmental characteristics which are difficult to obtain on Earth. Using such extreme conditions to investigate life processes affords opportunities for discovery and development of applications which enhance research and the probability for pathfinding mechanisms in life processes. For example, the elevation of cell culture temperatures brought new concepts to cell biology in the discovery of heat shock proteins and the refined stress response suites observed in gene expression. Indeed, Thermophilus aquaticus isolated from marine thermal vents provided the Taq polymerase so critical in molecular genetics advances.
Microgravity thus affords a new window through which to observe life processes. Throughout the evolution on Earth, life has not had to adapt to lowering of the gravitational force. It has been constant for the 4.3 billion years of evolving life. In the short time we have studied microgravity, it is