Study to support development of regenerative medical therapy aimed at reversing cellular damage and disease

ANN ARBOR and ROCHESTER HILLS, Michigan. – The NSF International Applied Research Center (ARC) and scientists aboard the Aquarius Undersea Reef Base off of coastal Florida have partnered to measure telomere length in NASA aquanauts after they have spent a prolonged period of time underwater as part of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) Mission 21. This 16-day study, running from July 21 to August 5, will help scientists and physicians better understand the impact of damaged or shortened telomeres on human health. The study will also inform the extent to which regenerative medical therapy can repair and possibly restore telomeres to healthier lengths, so that people can live healthier and more resilient lives.

Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes, which act as guardians of our DNA in every cell of our body. As telomeres shorten, our cells age and our bodies become more vulnerable to disease. Aquanauts in the NEEMO 21 high-fidelity analog environment (more than a simulation, it is an analog) experience a similar stress level to astronauts in space. In this intensified environment, DNA is captured using blood, saliva and endothelial cells to assess telomere length and the impact of TeloRegen biomedical regenerative therapy, which is being developed to attempt to repair telomeres to optimal lengths.

“The NSF International Applied Research Center is excited to work with scientists to study telomeres of the aquanauts while they are living aboard Aquarius at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean,” said Jesse Miller, Ph.D., Director of the NSF International Applied Research Center. “NSF International’s laboratory will test and provide results for the telomere changes from the samples of blood, saliva and endothelial cells collected by Dr. Marc Ó Gríofa, MD, Ph.D., FAWM, Chief Medical Officer of TeloRegen, who is one of the six international crew members to join the NASA undersea mission, NEEMO Mission 21.”

The study will also evaluate the impact of the NEEMO mission on telomeres using absolute qPCR and microscopy-based FISH measurement being performed by Dr. Susan M. Bailey, Ph.D. of Colorado State University. Together, the techniques will determine telomere length and damage, as well as provide longitudinal baseline data for future studies aiming to reverse the telomere shortening phenomena and, ultimately, a platform to address diseases related to telomere damage.

Editor’s Note: For media interested in more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Kelly Ingerly at media@nsf.org or +1 734-827-6850.

About NSF International: NSF International is a global independent organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the water, food, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). NSF International’s Applied Research Center (ARC) provides custom research and development services for all major industries including contract method development; testing and consulting services in chemistry, microbiology, genomics and toxicology; product claim verification; lab quality/management; methods training; and human health risk assessment.

About TeloRegen Inc.: TeloRegen Inc. is a mission-driven biotechnology company with a published patent for a practical Telomere Therapy. Advancing understandings of telomere medicine will advance understandings of diseases at the root cause of the problem on the cellular level. If this study proves hypotheses, practical applications of telomere therapies will be advanced (www. Teloregen.com).

About NEEMO 21: The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 21 mission began on July 21, 2016, as an international crew of aquanauts splashed down to the undersea Aquarius Reef Base, located 62 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The NEEMO 21 crew will perform research both inside and outside the habitat.  Inside the habitat, the crew's other objectives in addition to the TeloRegen study include testing a DNA sequencer, a medical telemetry device, coral reef restoration, and HoloLens operational performance for human spaceflight cargo transfer. Outside the habitat in open waters, the crew performs numerous extravehicular (EV) activities including scientific exploration and sampling representative of tasks that will be performed when crews land on Mars.