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Space medicine: Jacksonville researchers talk about cells sent to International Space Station

Precious cargo aboard a SpaceX rocket launched December 2018 carrying stem cells to the International Space Station.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic are looking to the stars to help understand how cells grow and respond.

“Looking up at the stars at night, you look up at the moon, it's extremely humbling to see how small we are in the greater universe,” Mayo Clinic Neurologist Dr. William D. Freeman said.

Precious cargo aboard a SpaceX rocket launched December 2018 carrying stem cells to the International Space Station as part of a Mayo Clinic research project that began in 2017.

Freeman is also part of the team working to understand how those cells grow and how they could help patients here on earth. Freeman said the early results indicate the cells can grow faster in a micro-gravity environment.

“They may have more regenerative potential to help patients speed recovery,” Freeman said.

It's a small step for man’s understanding, and potentially a giant leap for the future of medicine.

“It’s very important because we don’t currently have a drug for a brain hem mirage stroke and this is an opportunity to research here in Jacksonville,” Freeman said.

Potentially putting a pause on brain damage is a long way from getting put into practice, Freeman said. But that didn’t stop folks before from reaching beyond the stars.

“50 years ago there was a bold step to put a man on the moon, I think we’re extremely excited in 2019 that we’re studying space science that can help patients on earth,” Freeman said.