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15 July 2024

Al Neyadi contributes to study of undefined host-pathogens affecting immunity in space


The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), today announced that astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi participated in the host-pathogen experiment to analyse the reaction between astronauts’ immunity and the microbial pathogens on the International Space Station (ISS).

This experiment was conducted in collaboration with NASA’s Johnson Space Centre. The results of the study would be analysed through Al Neyadi’s DNA samples collected aboard the ISS and on Earth.

The host-pathogen study examines the interaction between astronauts and microbial pathogens that may be present within the environment of the space station through biological sample collection. This will offer an overall understanding of the effects of stress hormones and latent virus reactivation in the astronaut’s immunity system.

Al Neyadi’s blood samples will hence be collected to further analyse how his immune system has responded to space flight. The viruses being studied will also deliver results on how pathogens that trigger chickenpox in children and shingles in adults are usually dormant unless activated, thus compromising immunity.

Adnan Al Rais, Mission Manager, UAE Astronaut Programme, said, "The host-pathogen study is one that will change and impact our knowledge in space biology. It will potentially improve our response to immunity threats and build a stronger foundation of study on how astronauts’ immunity can be better maintained in space. Collaborating with the Johnson Space Centre for this study has helped us unravel a deeper understanding of patheogens and has helped us contribute to the space of healthcare in space. Sultan’s participation as a subject of study for this experiment sets a benchmark for the future of space sciences Internationally."

The astronaut’s samples, which indicate the suppressed immune state of the body, are collected and then frozen on the ISS. They are then sent to the Johnson Space Centre along with the samples that are collected before and after the flight to represent the normal state of the immune system in regular conditions. The samples will be further co-cultured with two types of bacteria separately, the regular bacteria and bacterial components from space, and then studied further.

The host-pathogen experiment is a breakthrough study of the pathogen reaction to human immunity in space. It will help us advance our understanding of how the immune system responds to regular and microgravity-conditioned bacteria. It will impact the understanding of Earth and help offer long-term solutions for various viral infections on Earth as well as in space.

The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by MBRSC under the UAE’s National Space Programme and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage.