Suture in Space: Preparation of an Experiment on the Healing of Sutured Wounds on Board the ISS

Monica Monici*, Francesca Cialdai, Daniele Bani, Stefano Bacci, Lucia Morbidelli, Aleandro Norfini, Michele Balsamo, Jack van Loon, Daniela Grimm, Stephan Riwaldt, Giuseppe Coppola, Leonardo Surdo, Francesca Ferranti, Desirée Pantalone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Wound healing (WH) is a process strictly regulated and highly conserved throughout evolution because it is indispensable for surviving injuries. On Earth WH has been studied in depth, nevertheless the role of mechanical factors in regulating the process and the mechanisms that, in adult mammals, lead to scarring instead of tissue regeneration are not well understood. In weightlessness WH has been poorly studied, and the effect of loading/unloading on the healing mechanisms is quite completely unknown. Preliminary studies showed microgravity-induced alterations in mechanisms underlying tissue repair. The implementation of procedures and tools to manage emergency surgery, trauma, serious burns, wounds and sutures is mandatory for future human deep space exploration missions at distances which are incompatible with medical evacuation to Earth. Therefore, studies on WH in weightlessness are needed and they are also an unique opportunity for understanding healing mechanisms still not completely known. The Suture in Space experiment, which will be performed on board the International Space Station (ISS), was selected by ESA (ESA-AO-ILSRA-2014) and supported by ASI in its development phase. It aims to study in weightlessness the behavior and healing of ex vivo sutured wound models prepared from skin and blood vessels biopsies derived from plastic and vascular surgery in healthy subjects. The experiment preparation required intense research activity on ground in order to: i) standardize procedures for collection of biopsies, model preparation, tissue culturing and monitoring, postflight analysis of samples; ii) define the requirements for hardware development. To ensure tissue viability throughout the in-flight experiment (4 weeks), we studied and developed a new tissue culture technique based on enriched culture media and a device able to model the physiological mechanical tension in the tissues and monitor its changes during WH, thus enabling the study of suture mechanical properties. The culture technique and WH models developed for the Suture in Space experiment can be applied to study: i) mechanical properties of tissues, tissue constructs, wounds and sutures in different loading conditions; ii) the role of gravity in tissue repair; iii) the relationship between biochemical and mechanical factors in repair mechanisms; iv) the influence of mechanical factors on scar quality; v) the effectiveness of treatments promoting WH, when applied in different loading conditions. The results of the experiment are expected to help in defining: i) strategies to manage wounds and promote healing in Space and on Earth; ii) suture techniques and materials to be used in space environment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIAF Space Exploration Symposium 2021
Subtitle of host publicationHeld at the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2021)
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation, IAF
ISBN (Electronic)9781713842965
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
EventIAF/IAA Space Life Sciences Symposium 2021 at the 72nd International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2021 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Duration: 25 Oct 202129 Oct 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation, IAF
ISSN (Print)0074-1795

Conference

ConferenceIAF/IAA Space Life Sciences Symposium 2021 at the 72nd International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Arab Emirates
CityDubai
Period25/10/2129/10/21

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank: Marco Bernini, Carlo Pratesi and Pierluigi Stef?no, Careggi University Hospital, Florence, Italy, for the collaboration in collecting biopsies; Enrico Monzani, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy, for providing metal-nonoates; Laura Calosi, Stefano Catarinicchia, and Daniele Guasti, Dept. of Experimental and Clinical Medicime, Univ. of Floremce, Italy, for their technical support in histological sample preparation; Michele Ghiozzi, Piergiorgio Rosa, Fabio Creati, Alessio Pannocchia, Kayser Italia, Livorno, Italy and Juergen Kempf, OHB System, Bremen, Germany for the collaboration in the development and supply of the experiment hardware; Facio Celotti and Alessandra Colciago, University of Milan, Italy, Paolo Romagnoli, Paolo Cirri and Anna Caselli, University of Florence, Italy, Marcel Egli, University of Lucerne, Switzerland, Nicola Marziliano, University of Molise, Italy, Theodoor Smit, Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Nederland for collaboration in the project attivities. This study was funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) (ESA contract 4000126101/18/NL/PG) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) (Contract ASI N. 2018-14-U.0-Suture in Space).

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) (ESA contract 4000126101/18/NL/PG) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) (Contract ASI N. 2018-14-U.0-Suture in Space).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). All rights reserved

Keywords

  • ISS
  • space exploration
  • surgical wounds
  • tissue viability
  • weightlessness
  • wound healing

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