MOSCOW, January 31. /TASS/. Russian cosmonauts are set to carry out the first-ever experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS) this year to test a shape memory synthetic plate coated with cellular material, Yusef Khesuani, managing partner of 3D Bioprinting Solutions (a biotech research firm established in Russia in 2013) told TASS on Tuesday.
"Together with colleagues from MISIS [the Moscow-based University of Science and Technology], a material with the so-called shape memory was developed, which acquires a designed geometric structure under certain conditions. This is a plate that can fold into a tubular structure," Khesuani explained.
"Presently, we plan to carry out [an experiment] in the fall of this year or in the spring of next year as a backup option," he added.
Experiments with shape memory materials have never been conducted by Russian or foreign scientists in microgravity conditions before, he said.
"Neither we nor our foreign colleagues have ever carried out such experiments using cells, a bioprinter and shape memory material that will change its geometry in space," he stressed.
The plate will be printed on Earth and folded into the required shape, following which it will be unfolded again and coated with the cellular material. The plate is expected to revert back to its designed shape after its delivery to the ISS, Khesuani said.
"Interestingly, the cosmonauts will observe in real time how the plate will roll up and turn into a tube of the required length and diameter," he noted.
This experiment is of great significance for regenerative medicine. Doctors on Earth use a similar principle to repair damaged urethral tissue, Khesuani pointed out.
"The tubes are formed and are coated with a special gel and the patient’s tissue material. We try to do the same with the only difference being that the tube will be assembled in space to prove that we are ready to make the next step with other geometric structures," he said.