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【Sputnik News Agency & Radio】Chinese media: Two small "Magic boxes" for gene mutation research is the first China Science Experiment board on ISS

release date :2017-06-26 02:54:00  |   [ close window ]ViewCount:

  Translator: News Agency of BIT Zhou Xinyue

  Editor: News Center of BIT Zhao Jie

  

  

  According to the Science and Technology Daily, on the morning of June 4, Beijng time, with the directive "3-2-1-ignition" of United States Kennedy Space Center, two dark green boxes of Beijing Institute of Technology(BIT) rushed towards the International Space Station following the "Dragon" spacecraft.

  These two small boxes, can automatically change the temperature, feed, start and stop the experiment ... ... Valves, pumps and reactors are all equipped, as a results, the boxes are called "magic box".

  Associate professor Li Xiaoqiong from School of Life Science of BIT introduced that there are two groups of 12 chips, 60 channels in the scientific load boxes that can simulate the human development process, carry out polymerase chain reaction (PCR) reaction DNA Research on mismatch of the 20 genes law in the space environment. The project will stay in the International Space Station for a month, which is the first time China's space science project enter the International Space Station, and achieve the "zero" breakthrough in space cooperation with the United States in nearly two or three decades.

  How did they do the experiment in the space station without any equipment? What can the small "Magic boxes" do? How to complete the experiment?

  

  © AFP 2017/ MARK RALSTON

 

  "To complete a biology experiment requires a lot of equipments, it is impossible to move it to the space." Project team leader, Professor Deng Yulin of BIT said, "In order to meet the requirements of space experiments, we designed the laboratory embedded into the chip, use 'microfluidic chip technology' to made 'chip lab', then equip the chip into the 'box'.

  Deng Yulin introduced that "chip lab" came from a wonderful discovery, whose principle article was published in1999 on "Science" magazine - a scientist found when a tube filled with the red and blue ink achieves micro Nano level, the interface between them is very clear and not mixed.

  "Not mixed" means that controling the fluid is very simple, a turn can play a "valve" role, pumps, reactors, laboratory equipment can be achieved in a small area. "Electronic chip is the resistor, diode and other components integrated into the wafer.  'Chip Lab' is the micro-valve, micro-pump, micro-reactor integrated on the chip." Deng Yulin said.

  In addition, the chip is designed to consider a completely different environment from the ground. For example, dramatic temperature changes in space will bring great pressure to the chip which makes it prone to rupture. In the face of space radiation, complex mechanisms and other problems, the project team innovated to complete the overall experimental design, core chip development and other research work.

  The experiment will start after the space flight starts. Microfluidic chip PCR instrument will start in the "magic box" so that antibody gene fragments can amplify in the space environment. "They will be affected by gamma rays, microgravity and so on." Li Xiaoqiong said, "At the same time, on the ground the experiment of the same reaction conditions will be completed." The project team will compare the two experiments after gaining the sequencing analyses of in orbit flight "DNA amplification products" and "controlled group DNA amplification products ". The frequency and location of gene mutation caused by space flight were expected to be discussed, and the mechanism of gene mutation in space radiation and microgravity environment could be further discussed.

  

  

  This is a research experiment of biological theory. In the study of 'Shenzhou 8' load experiment, we found some new phenomena of DNA variation in space environment, and it is concluded that gene mutation caused by space environment may be important for biomolecular evolution. "We would like to take this opportunity to learn more about the laws behind this phenomenon."

  In fact, the use of "chip lab" has been carried out on a more complex automatic experiment more than a month ago in the "Tianzhou-1". That load is to imitate the human organ environment in the chip and carry out a variety of cells automatically co-culture which is the world's first case.

  "The chip is also inlaid with video equipment," Deng Yulin said, "We use the multi-focus fusion technology to achieve automatic focus, clearly photographed immune the number of cell migration, way and direction." The project team eventually got more than a dozen G photos, and even could tell a "life-saving" story - after nerve cell injured, it sent signal to raise immune cells, and immune cells came to "rescue."

  "Our goal is to let our space station in the future become a national space laboratory, all sectors of the industry are hoped to do experiments there." Deng Yulin said.

  

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